The Boston Celtics took down the Atlanta Hawks 103-101 on Friday night, powered by Isaiah Thomas and reserve Kelly Olynyk. The Hawks, who came in winners of seven straight, didn't make it easy on the Celtics in the fourth quarter, but Boston hung on for the victory.
It was a sluggish start to the game, with both teams throwing up some bricks and the Celtics hitting just one of their first eight attempts. However, Kelly Olynyk's back-to-back threes ignited a crazy stretch of shooting for the C's. After shooting 1/8, they hit all eight of their next shots (six of which were for three). One of their season-tying eight three-pointers in a quarter was set up by a sweet behind the back no-look pass from Isaiah Thomas to Al Horford (also Horford's first points back in Atlanta):
#Celtics Rewind is pres. by @NissanUSA: @Isaiah_Thomas with the behind-the-back pass to @Al_Horford for the 3-ball. pic.twitter.com/GXtcmWtAFm— CSN New England (@CSNNE) January 14, 2017
They used this hot shooting to open a 10-point lead after the first quarter:
#Celtics hit 8 3's in the 1Q and lead #ATLHawks 28-18 after 1Q. BOS was 2-for-7 on 2pt shots. Crowder 10, Olynyk 9.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) January 14, 2017
Olynyk checked out two minutes into the second quarter with nine points (3/4 shooting), two rebounds, three assists, and a +14 in the box score in just 10 minutes. After, Boston's bench was left with little scoring options on the floor, as they only managed to put up four points in about five minutes. Two of those points came from this nice Jaylen Brown slam:
During the cold shooting stretch, they missed nine straight from downtown after that hot 8/12 start. Luckily, Atlanta couldn't get anything going on offense either. The starters plus Olynyk reentered the contest and couldn't do much better, letting Kent Bazemore and the Hawks cut the Celtics' lead to just two.
Meanwhile, it was a quiet scoring half for Isaiah Thomas. The Hawks did a great job locking down Isaiah and showing on screens from the start, but the Eastern Conference's leading scorer still had a big presence for Boston. He racked up six smooth assists while also opening up a lot of indirect opportunities for his teammates -- Atlanta was so focused on Isaiah that it opened up a lot of space for other Celtics shooters. Boston clung to a four-point advantage at the half:
Kelly Olynyk's out here trying to win one for Al. 18 points, 3 rebs, 3 assists, 4 for 5 from three.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 14, 2017
48-44 Celtics. Halftime.
The third frame was a good one for the Cs. Everyone chipped in to extend their four-point lead to 20. Jae Crowder hit two threes, Isaiah got going and drilled a couple of threes, Smart did a little of everything including a fading put-back, and Horford had a three and this powerful finish at the rim:
Once again, when Isaiah, Crowder, Horford, and Olynyk all made their way to the bench towards the end of the third quarter, Brad Steven's second-unit had no offense. Atlanta shrunk Boston's 20-point lead down to 12 in a matter of two minutes:
The C's regain a double-digit lead over ATL, as they head into the 4Q with a 78-65 advantage. Kelly has 20 pts. IT has 15 pts & 9 asts.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 14, 2017
The new King in the Fourth got into the lane for a speedy four points, but the Hawks refused to go down easy. Tim Hardaway Jr. and rookie Malcolm Delaney made some big baskets to surge Atlanta back into the game and cut Boston's lead to just two yet again. Isaiah and Delaney exchanged some clutch buckets, and Paul Millsap drained a wide-open three to tie the game with about 30 ticks remaining.
With overtime looming, Isaiah knew what he had to do. He drove, he stepped back, and he did this to sink the Hawks for good:
Olynyk registered a season high 26 points to go along with eight boards and three assists. Isaiah finished with 28/9/4 and Crowder totaled 18/9 to help Al Horford (10/6/6) defeat his former team.
Speaking of which, Horford's return to Atlanta was a weird one -- after nine seasons with the Hawks and tallying the sixth most blocks and eighth most rebounds in franchise history, there were many salty Hawks fans who apparently couldn't get over his departure. The NBA veteran seemed to receive more boos than cheers when his name was called during starting lineups. However, Horford got a standing ovation after this tribute video was played:
Thank You, Al Horford pic.twitter.com/167wQTQSPV— HaWWWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) January 14, 2017
Next up for the C's are the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Photo by @celtics Erik Johnson 1/13/2017 10:48:00 PM Tweet Edit