Boston once again came up short in a tough battle with Eastern Conference foes in Atlanta, losing to the Hawks in a valiant effort, 123-116.
The Celts started things out a bit better than last night but unfortunately the Atlanta Hawks also came to play right off the bat. Boston found themselves down 24-32 by the end of the first period. However, things got much worse in the 2nd quarter as Atlanta pushed the ball up the court and scored 39 points in the quarter against Boston's troubling defense. Taurean Prince amassed a career high 18 points at that point by halftime and was flying up and down the court. Isaiah Thomas had 16 points and Crowder had 15 but Boston couldn't stop the Hawks on defense. Al Horford, former Hawk, was in early foul trouble throughout the half.
Coming out of the half, Boston looked more assertive on offense and got some good looks. Thomas once again came out and hit a few shots to get himself going again. A last second three point shot by Marcus Smart made it a 10 point game 99-89, going into the 4th quarter. The Celtics outscored Atlanta 34-28 and they seemed poised to go on a run to make this a single digit game again.
Boston once again came out a step slow in the fourth and it looked like Atlanta was going to run away with the game up 111-98 with five minutes to go. However, Boston led one last surge in the game led by Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart on the defensive end. With a Smart put back, the Cs made it a 111-103 game. Shortly after, Smart forced a turnover on a steal and Bradley finished the assist from Smart off with a poster dunk to make it 111-105 with just over two minutes to go. Isaiah Thomas then scored 6 straight points including a huge three pointer that made it 116-111 with under a minute left. From that point forward it was a free throw game and Atlanta made all of theirs and the Celtics comeback came up short. Atlanta took the game 123-116.
For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas led the way with 35 points. Jae Crowder chipped in 24 points while Avery Bradley added 17 points of his own. Marcus Smart had his best game of the season with 18 points including 5 three pointers, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals. Al Horford had a game to forget with 4 points and 5 rebounds in a game where he spent most of the 2nd half on the bench. Atlanta was led by Paul Millsap who had 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench. Tim Hardaway JR added in 23 points while Dennis Schroder contributed 20 points.
Boston has no dropped two in a row (50-29) and falls 1.5 games behind Cleveland for first place. The Celts only have a 2 game lead over both Toronto and Washington. Next up are the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 6:00pm. Two straight tough losses for the men in green, lets pray that we can bounce back.
Image Credit: NBA Twitter/ Getty Images
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