ATLANTA, Jan. 22 (Ticker) --
The Boston Celtics' inability to close out
games is overshadowed only by their inability to win on the
The Celtics surrendered a 17-point second-half advantage and
suffered their ninth straight road loss as the Atlanta Hawks
parlayed big games by Al Harrington
and rookie Josh Childress
into a 100-96 triumph.
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Harrington had 21 points and a career-high 17 rebounds and
Childress added 19 points off the bench, the best output of his
rookie season. Former Celtic Antoine Walker
added 29 points,
six rebounds and six assists as Atlanta (8-30) snapped a
three-game losing streak.
Rookie Tony Allen
, making his first career start, led Boston
(18-22) with 20 points. But the Celtics fell to 5-16 away from
the FleetCenter and have not won on the road since a 114-107
overtime victory at Cleveland on December 18.
Boston is 4-23 in its last 27 trips to Atlanta and has lost four
of the last six meetings between the teams overall.
"We're struggling on the road, so we have to just bounce back," Boston forward Ricky Davis
said. "If we lose a couple more on the road, it might get mental."
For a while, it seemed like the Celtics finally would break through
on the road, as Boston scored 14 straight points at the start of
the second half to seize a 64-49 lead.
But the Hawks, who arrived in Atlanta early Saturday afternoon after the team's charter was unable to leave Chicago on Friday night, shook off any signs of fatigue in the fourth quarter. After Davis opened the quarter with a jump shot to give Boston an 82-69 advantage with 11:49 remaining, Harrington capped a 23-6 run with a layup that gave Atlanta a 92-88 lead with 2:32 remaining.
"This morning was rough for us," Walker said. "We were kind of sucking wind in the third quarter, and they jumped out on us. The biggest thing is we kept on attacking the basket. We were able to make a run, and at the end got them."
Harrington, who was an anemic 3-for-12 from the field prior to the fourth quarter, scored 13 points on 3-for-6 shooting and collected nine rebounds in the final quarter.
"I had to make something out of (my night)," Harrington said. "I made shots and free throws. I'll take it every day."
The Hawks, who were a league-worst 66 percent from the free-throw line coming into the contest, connected on 12-of-15 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"The key to wining close games is getting to the free throw line," Hawks head coach Mike Woodson said. "We got into the penalty early in the fourth quarter and we really milked it. I thought that was the difference in the ballgame."
It was the second straight late loss for Boston, which squandered a four-point fourth-quarter lead in Friday's 104-98 loss to New Jersey.
"We were playing the game, as (Pistons head coach) Larry Brown would say, the right way," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "Then we decided it was showtime. To me, you deserve to get your butt kicked when you play that way. I think the basketball Gods said, 'screw you' tonight.
"The first six minutes of the third quarter was like Picasso. Then one guy takes a bad shot, another guy takes a bad shot, then it's selfish-time basketball. To me, when you play like that, you should lose because you are playing like losers."