Notebook: Celtics 89, Hawks 81



Posted Jan 6, 2013 12:13 AM

By Matt Winkeljohn, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: When the Celtics stopped fussing amongst themselves Saturday and turned their anger on the Hawks, it was a rout in Atlanta.

Boston rolled as Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter Saturday to help the Celtics turn a 15-point halftime deficit into an 89-81 win.

Pierce had help from Rajon Rondo, as the Boston point guard's second triple double of the season (14 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) was back-loaded in the second half.

The Hawks, conversely, were front loaded. Lou Williams scored 16 of his season-high 28 points in the first quarter for Atlanta, and the Hawks expanded the lead to 46-27 on one of Williams' four second-quarter treys.

Then, Atlanta disappeared in a flurry of failed jump shots in the third quarter as Boston started pushing the Hawks around. Atlanta's 53-38 halftime lead vanished under a 33-9 Celtics avalanche in the third.

After losing four straight games, Boston has won two straight with solid defense -- although not at first Saturday.

The Celtics (16-17) beat Indiana 94-75 Friday, and then --- after sleep-walking through the first half -- stoned the Hawks (20-12) in the second half.

Atlanta's nine points in the third quarter were a season low, the Hawks' 28 points in the second half were a season low, they shot 2-for-14 in the third quarter (a season-low 14.3 percent), and their second-half shooting mark of 25 percent (7-for-28) was a season low.

The Hawks lost for the second straight night and for the third time in four games. Jeff Teague had 17 points, and Josh Smith had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Garnett had 14 points for Boston.

QUOTABLE: "We wanted to bring the fight to the Hawks in the second half. We were kind of bickering with each other at halftime about what to do defensively, and I just reminded the guys that the fight isn't against us, it's against the other team. I told our guys we have to accept coaching. Doc was telling us what to do, and guys were getting angry with him. I told them the ones we need to be getting angry with is the other team."
-- Pierce.

THE STAT: 16-8 -- Boston -- one of the league's least effective rebounding teams -- won the battle of the boards, 44-38. More importantly, the Celtics had a 16-8 edge on the offensive glass.

TURNING POINT: The third quarter, won 33-9 by Boston. As the Celtics starting pushing the Hawks around, Pierce was the star of the period while scoring 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting (2-for-3 on 3-pointers). Rookie forward Jared Sullinger had five rebounds as the Celtics grabbed 17 rebounds to Atlanta's seven.

The Hawks shot 2-for-14 with seven turnovers to Boston's two, and had one assist to Boston's nine. Both Atlanta makes were on treys, but the Hawks were just 2-for-9 from distance in the third. Boston outscored Atlanta 12-0 in the paint in the third quarter after the Hawks won that stat 24-12 in the first half.

Atlanta got off just three shots in the paint in the period, all misses.

QUOTABLE II: "This was a very, very disappointing loss . . . probably for me, the most disappointing of the season. When it starts getting a little bit more physical, and they start playing us a little rougher, we don't respond. That was clearly what happened tonight. The last way that you want to lose is for a team to climb up in you. I was going to give them [Sunday] off after four games in five nights, but I cannot do that. I'm concerned."
-- Hawks coach Larry Drew.

HOT: Williams made all six of his shots in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers. He has made a career-high five 3-pointers in consecutive games. . . . Rondo had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and just one turnover in the second half. . . . Boston starters outscored Atlanta starters 45-22 in the second half.

NOT: Josh Smith missed all five of his shots in the disastrous third quarter, and shot just 4-for-18 overall while nursing a hip flexor that he aggravated Friday in a loss in Detroit. Smith did grab a team-high 10 rebounds, but also had a team-high six turnovers. . . . One night after going 9-for-13 with 18 points and 15 rebounds against the Pistons, Atlanta center Al Horford had six points on 2-for-8 shooting.

GOOD MOVE: Boston coach Doc Rivers told his players to be more physical, but they didn't pay heed until the second half -- when players decided to start doing what he said. There is no way Rivers could have predicted that subtle coaching move would be so successful.

QUOTABLE III: "We made not one adjustment at the half. We just came out and did the same things harder, and better."

-- Rivers.

ROOKIE REPORT: Sullinger was more effective off the bench than his numbers (eight points on 4-for-8 shooting, nine rebounds, two assists and a block) showed. He had four offensive rebounds, and had a few deflections in 23:31. . . . Atlanta's John Jenkins played token minutes, and did not register a statistic.

NOTABLE: In his third game back after shoulder surgery, Boston shooting guard Avery Bradley started for the second straight time. He shot just 3-for-9 to make him 6-for-20 in those starts and 8-for-26 overall. He added four rebounds in 19-plus minutes, and the Celtics are 2-0 with him in the starting lineup. Devin Harris missed his 11th straight game with a sore left foot. He worked out, but no timetable for his return has been announced. . . . Anthony Morrow missed his fifth straight game with a hip strain. . . . Four Atlanta starters played 41 or more minutes. The only one who didn't, Kyle Korver, fouled out.

UP NEXT: For the Celtics, Monday @ New York, Wednesday vs.Phoenix, Friday vs. Houston. For the Hawks, Tuesday @ Minnesota, Wednesday @ Cleveland, Friday vs. Utah.