Celtics Central

Boston Celtics

Hawks Break 0-9 Drought in Boston: 97-86

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An aggressive Hawks team got an 0-9 TD Garden monkey off their backs with a hard fought win over the Celtics. They did it with energy, physical play, rebounding and second chance points.

Doc Rivers…

I think they just kicked our butt, honestly. They came in with a game plan. They ran it to perfection.

Indeed they did. So far this season, with everything the Cs have been doing right, and they are among the league leaders in many categories, rebounding numbers have been lackluster compared to the previous two years. Last night it was a contributing factor.

The refs let them play and the athletic Hawks did more than hold their own. Kendrick Perkins received a questionable technical for swinging his arm underneath after a basket. There were a number of uncalled fouls going both ways. No hometown discount was had by the Celtics as they shot 19 free throws to the Hawks 23.

The Celtics were led in scoring by Paul Pierce with 24 points. Pierce, who was shooting 50% from the three point line, went 0-4 from downtown tonight. With scoring a problem for the Cs in the fourth, Pierce tried to get things going, but could only manage 6 points on 2 of 5 shooting.

Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins also had 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Ray Allen took only 8 shots, making 5 for 10 points, while adding 5 assists. Rajon Rondo had 9 assists but was held scoreless until the final quarter, when he made two baskets.

Rasheed Wallace missed a wide open three near the end that would have gotten the Celtics within striking range, but had 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks on the night. Marquis Daniels had 9 points, but only one assist and zero rebounds in 19 plus minutes. He had only three turnovers in the previous 6 games.

Shelden Williams had a tough night against his former team, going just 1 for 4, trying to get shots off inside in traffic, and grabbing just 2 rebounds in 11 minutes.

The Celtic bench players generally outplayed their counterparts on the Hawks, save Jamal Crawford who score 18 points in 28 minutes. But the Hawk guards were getting inside or open with regularity.

The Hawks starters out played the Celtic starters most of the night. Joe Johnson led them with 21 points on 9 of 21 shooting, but they had 5 players in double figures. They were able to penetrate the Celtic defense and kicked to open shooters in the corners. Mike Bibby had 10 third quarter points on 3-4 shooting, including two corner threes.

Fourth Quarter Was the Difference

Jamal Crawford dropped in 9 fourth quarter points, along with Johnson’s 5, and Joe Smith’s 3 boards and 4 points on 2-2 shooting. They out rebounded the Cs 11 to 6 in the final stanza to cement the win. They converted 3 of 3 second chance opportunities for 6 points while the Celtics had none.

Though the Celtics shot 49% overall, they were just 1 for 15 from the arc. They were 35-58 for 60% shooting otherwise.

Pierce had 6 points on 2-5 in the crucial 4th quarter. The Celtics were outscored 25-16 and no one else could muster more than 4 (Rondo).

The Celtics held the Hawks to just 4 of 15 from the three point line on the evening, but couldn’t hold them off the boards as they were out rebounded on the offensive glass 16-6 and 47 to 29 overall. The Hawks had 22 second chance points to the Celtics 4 for the game.

In spite of the rebounding disparity, it was a close game throughout. Each team took turns leading by as many as 8 points, but ended each quarter nearly even…until the final period.

So, the Celtics absorbed their second loss, and the Hawks took another step toward becoming a team that might be a bona fide contender.

The Celtics get no rest as they head to Indiana for a game against the Pacers at 7 pm tonight.

Thomas Halzack