Ford Keys to the Game: Hawks 90, Celtics 102

Ford Keys to the Game

Hawks 90, Celtics 102

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson marches up court after drilling one of his two 3-pointers Thursday night..
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

We all knew this was going to be a difficult win for the Celtics to grab, simply because the roster is currently gutted by injuries and the team played its heart out last night in New York, but somehow Boston made it happen… just as it has for 12 straight games.

The Celtics defied the odds yet again in a 102-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks tonight, but the game was much closer than that score would indicate. The two teams battled back and forth for the entire contest and it was a two-point game, in favor of the C’s, as late as the 9:07 mark of the fourth quarter. That’s actually the moment when Boston chose to put this game away with a variety of solid plays.

First came a putback layup from Glen Davis off of a missed shot from Semih Erden. His hustle play was followed up by another from Nate Robinson at the other end. Robinson, who was a spot starter for the injured Rajon Rondo, applied ball pressure on Jeff Teague in the left corner of the court and wound up forcing a jump ball, which he’d eventually win, that resulted in his second steal of the game.

Just 19 seconds after that jump ball, Robinson dished a pass off to Paul Pierce at the top of the key and the Captain wound up draining a 3-pointer to put the C’s up by seven, at 82-75. Atlanta came down and missed a field goal attempt at the end of the shot clock on the next possession and the C’s quickly took it the other way. It didn’t take long for them to find another great shot, as the ball was entered into Erden on the block and he finished a pretty jump hook to cap a quick 7-0 run.

That spurt turned a close game into a nine-point advantage for Boston with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The crowd was riled up, the Hawks were flustered and the C’s could taste victory yet again. As the rest of the starting group trickled back into the lineup, Boston continued to stretch out the lead and eventually finished off the Hawks with a 12-point victory for their 12th straight win - the perfect blend of irony.

Key Box Score Line

Paul Pierce came up huge for the second night in a row, but he did so tonight in a much different manner than Wednesday night’s 32-point performance in New York.

It’s no secret that the Celtics don’t have a true point guard on the roster outside of Rajon Rondo. With the star floor general sidelined tonight with a sprained left ankle, no one knew who would step up and play the role of assist man. The logical guess would have been Nate Robinson, who started in Rondo’s place, but instead it was Pierce.

The Captain rallied up on offense and took a back seat to his teammates. He finished with a game-high 10 assists, which doubles as his season high. That total is double that of any other game he has had this season. His previous high was five assists, which he accomplished on three other occasions.

But to get into this spot, you can’t just play well in one facet of the game. Pierce also shot the ball well enough to score 15 points while crashing the boards for five rebounds. That all around performance resulted in a plus/minus rating of plus-22, which tied with Kevin Garnett for the game-high.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-22.
  • For the second straight game, three Celtics finished with double-doubles: Pierce (15 points, 10 assists), Garnett (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Glen Davis (18 points, 10 rebounds).
  • Garnett and Davis combined to grab 24 of Boston's 33 rebounds.
  • Despite playing without the leading assist man in the NBA, Boston surpassed its season average of APG (25.9) with 28 tonight.
  • Jeff Teague matched Davis' 18 points for the game-high from a reserve.
  • Al Horford was Atlanta's top rebounder with seven boards. No other Hawk grabbed more than five.
  • Both teams shot at least 50.0 percent from the field: Boston 53.0 percent, Atlanta 50.0 percent.
  • The Celtics attempted 15 more field goals (83) than the Hawks (68).
  • Boston committed only 12 turnovers while forcing 18.
  • Despite the statistic above, Atlanta scored more points off of turnovers (17) than the Celtics (14).
  • Semih Erden, who started at center for Boston, scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting but did not grab a single rebound or record an assist.
  • Jason Collins, Atlanta's starting center, scored zero points, had only one rebound and did not assist on a single basket.
  • The Celtics attempted only 11 free throws, making eight.
  • Nate Robinson attempted a game-high seven 3-pointers, making two of them. He scored 14 points in the game.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on handling Kevin Garnett's minutes: "Whoever’s on the floor (who) is losing the lead for us, Kevin is not going over those (31-32) minutes. So it’s good right now that we’re getting away – you want to say getting away with something, to me, that’s what we’re getting away with."