Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 83, Hawks 88

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 83, Hawks 88

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Fan

Jermaine O'Neal confronts Zaza Pachulia just seconds after Atlanta's forward-center is whistled for a technical foul, and just seconds before O'Neal picked up one of his own.
Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Another back-to-back. Another loss.

The Celtics led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but when they ran out of gas, so did the prospects of their momentum-building win. Boston managed to score just 31 total points in the second half, a number that matched their second-quarter output, and that inability to score allowed the Atlanta Hawks to get back into the game.

Atlanta actually went ahead by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter when Joe Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining in the game, but the C’s continued to hang around until the final seconds. In fact, after two consecutive three-point plays off of a Paul Pierce-Ray Allen pick-and-pop, the C’s were back within three just 38 seconds after Johnson’s shot from downtown.

With both teams struggling to hit a shot in the final two minutes of the game, this one came down to free throws. As the final score would indicate, the C’s failed to make them, but the Hawks didn’t.

With the C’s trailing by three and about 40 seconds remaining in the game, Glen Davis made a move from the right block and put up an awkward layup attempt as Jamal Crawford fouled him. Davis’ shot barely rimmed out, which took away the prospects of a possible game-tying three-point play. Instead, he headed to the line for two free throws with 36 seconds left in regulation.

As Davis waited for the referee to toss him the ball for his first attempt, he stood bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing deeply and clearly showing some fatigue. Filling in as the starting center for the injured Nenad Krstic, Davis played more than 35 minutes tonight in the second night of a back-to-back, which is six minutes more than his season average. By the time these free throws rolled around, Davis was playing on tired legs. His first free throw attempt bricked hard off of the back of the rim, and his body language wreaked of exhaustion. His second free throw was much closer to going in, and it actually rolled around the rim before popping out.

That extra roll, though, allowed Kevin Garnett to get position in the paint and rise up for a huge offensive rebound before being fouled – or so we thought.

As Garnett grabbed the board, Zaza Pachulia flew toward the basket stanchion and as a result drew a loose ball foul on KG. Replays showed Garnett clearly giving a slight push to Pachulia’s back, but Atlanta’s big man embellished the play enough to draw the whistle. He wound up heading to the free-throw line with 36 seconds left on the clock as well, and he calmly sank both attempts.

Those free throws put the Hawks ahead by five and the Celtics couldn’t cut the lead down to less than three from that point on. Though Boston had chances to tie or win this game in the final 30 seconds, it was that four-point swing of free throws that wound up determining the outcome this game.

Key Box Score Line

Paul Pierce had his second consecutive 20-point game tonight, but that’s expected out of him. Delonte West’s performance against the Hawks surpassed expectations, because he delivered in any and every way possible.

West finished tonight’s game with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but he didn’t limit himself to just scoring. He also notched three rebounds and tied Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett for the team-high in assists with five while committing zero turnovers.

In addition to his offensive exploits, West also stepped it up on defense and wreaked havoc on Atlanta’s offense during his stints on the floor. He finished with game-highs of two steals and two blocks.

That type of production across the board far surpasses what the Celtics can expect out of West on a nightly basis, but if he can come anywhere near making that type of impact consistently, he’s going to be a huge weapon for Boston off of the bench.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Paul Pierce scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
  • Boston's 31 total points in the second half matched its second quarter output.
  • Al Horford notched a huge double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Boston was outrebounded 52-38.
  • Boston outshot Atlanta 44.6 percent to 36.7 percent, yet still lost.
  • Each team had two players grab double-digit rebounds: Kevin Garnett (10) and Rajon Rondo (10) for the C's, and Horford (15) and Zaza Pachulia (10) for the Hawks.
  • Rondo, Garnett and Delonte West tied for the team-high in assists with five apiece.
  • Garnett finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Rondo finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds
  • The Celtics committed only six turnovers.
  • West's two steals tied Atlanta's team total, and his two blocks were one more than Atlanta's team total.
  • Jamal Crawford scored 20 points off the bench for the Hawks
  • Boston was outrebounded 14-3 on the offensive glass.
  • No Atlanta player was whistled for more than three fouls, while two Celtics finished with at least four.
  • Joe Johnson scored 19 points thanks to a 10-of-11 performance from the free-throw line. He shot just 4-of-20 from the field.
  • Pierce tied Johnson for the game-high in free throw attempts with 11, eight of which he made.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on what changed the outcome of the game: " I thought Zaza Pachulia was the toughest dude on the floor and changed the whole game. He was banging everybody, getting offensive rebounds, and I thought that was a great move by them. When they got back in the game, the back-to-back for us became an issue."