Hawks hand Celtics sixth straight loss, 123-111 in double overtime

Jeff Green played well, but the Celtics suffered a devastating loss in Atlanta
The misery continues. On Friday night in Atlanta the Celtics blew a 27 point lead to the Atlanta Hawks, losing by a final score of 123-111 in double overtime. Despite a hot start, and seven players in double figures, the Celts collapsed like a dying star in the A-T-L. The Hawks were led by Kyle Korver (27 points on 8-12 3PT FG), Jeff Teague (23 points, 7 assists), Al Horford (24 points, 13 boards) and Josh Smith (17 points, 14 rebounds and 7 dimes). For the Celtics, Jeff Green played great with 17 points and 6 boards in 30 minutes, while Kevin Garnett put up 24-10. Rajon Rondo picked up his second straight triple double, with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds on the night. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, read ahead for the morbid details.

The first quarter was like a replay of the 3rd quarter the last time the Celtics played in Atlanta. Total domination by the C's as they shot 55%, and the Hawks shot an anemic 4-23 (17%). Jeff Green played like the guy we all hoped he could be, scoring a quick 8 points, while Rajon Rondo picked up where he left off against the Knicks, shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field. There's a million other positive things you could say about a quarter that the C's won by 19 - but coming off five straight losses it was almost frustrating to see them flip the switch so strongly.

The second quarter saw the Hawks finally show up to Philips Arena, albeit 35 minutes late. The game opened up on both sides of the ball, and the star for the Celtics continued to be Jeff Green. Honestly it's games like this where you just want to bottle up what Green is doing. He ended up with 13 first half points despite only shooting the ball 5 times. He aggressively drove to the hoop, going to the line 6 times, and even threw in 3 rebounds for good measure. The Celts played the Hawks to a 28 all tie in the quarter, taking a 57-38 lead into halftime.

All of the good will the Celtics built up in the first half was immediately pissed away in the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter. A 59-40 lead became a 59 all tie as the Celtics were run off the court during a 19-0 run by Atlanta. Kyle Korver came alive with three 3's in the 3rd and Josh Smith started doing what makes Josh Smith so dangerous - running. It was actually a fairly remarkable thing to see. While the NBA is a league of runs, it's rare to see one team rip off 19 straight against professional competition. Unfortunately the C's were on the wrong side of it tonight. The Celtics pulled their head's out of their collective asses long enough to regain a four point lead heading into the 4th.

Once the fourth quarter began this game became the story of Kyle Korver. You know, that Ashton Kutcher looking dude who's survived ten seasons in the NBA off of precisely one skill; being deadly from deep. After failing to hit a three in the entire first half, Korver followed up his three third quarter three's with five more in the fourth. Yup, eight three's in one half of play for the journeyman from Creighton. Korver kept the Hawks close but still the Celtics led by nine with just over three minutes to play before collapsing down the stretch. Paul Pierce continued his sluggish play (4-13 from the floor) and the Hawks were able to force overtime thanks to 50 points from their backcourt (Korver and Jeff Teague).

The overtime mirrored the 4th quarter with the teams going back and forth for much of the period. Avery Bradley hit a huge three only to see Josh Smith answer with a pair of buckets. When the dust settled the C's had the ball with just 23 seconds remaining and the game tied at 107. With the game on the line the Celts went to Paul Pierce, but unfortunately the C's captain just doesn't have his legs right now. He couldn't even get the shot off against Josh Smith, and we went to a second overtime.

In the second overtime the Celtics flat out ran out of gas. They didn't score until there was a minute remaining, and by that point it was too late. KG and Sully fouled out, and Josh Smith manhandled the Celtics down low. It was a kick in the stomach for Celtics fans that saw the team jump out to such a huge lead. There's a lot to say, but the bottom line is blowing a 27 point lead to a run of the mill team like Atlanta is a horrible sign for this team.

The Celtics are now 20-23, and still in 8th place in the East. Next game Sunday against Ray Allen and the Heat at the Garden.

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