Game Preview: Hawks at Celtics
After putting an end to their season-worst skid, the Atlanta Hawks squandered a chance at a second straight victory with sloppy play down the stretch.
A mediocre performance from the banged-up squad might be enough to overcome the Boston Celtics.
Atlanta seeks just its second win in 11 contests Wednesday night when it visits Boston.
The Hawks put the brakes on an eight-game losing streak Saturday with a 107-98 victory over New York. They appeared to be in good shape for another on Tuesday, leading Chicago by as many as 14 points in the first quarter. Atlanta still had a two-point lead with 1:06 left but committed turnovers in its final four possessions - two by Jeff Teague - in a 107-103 defeat.
Chicago finished with 20 points off the Hawks' 16 turnovers, and Atlanta's opponents are averaging 19.6 points off turnovers during the club's 1-9 stretch.
Coach Mike Budenholzer took issue with one of those final turnovers, complaining about the lack of a foul call when Mike Scott was stripped by Joakim Noah with eight seconds left. Scott said Noah hit him on the arm.
"Do I think he was fouled?" Budenholzer asked after the game. "I just looked at it, and yes I do."
Budenholzer said he was otherwise satisfied with the effort level from his team, which got 26 points from Teague and was without All-Star Paul Millsap for the second straight game due to a right knee contusion. Atlanta's frontcourt was already depleted by the losses of Pero Antic (ankle) and Gustavo Ayon (shoulder), who sat out their 15th and fourth straight games, respectively. All three are expected to miss Wednesday's contest as well.
Scott also cooled off considerably, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting after totaling 50 over his last two games.
As difficult as things have been for the Hawks lately, the Celtics have lost five in a row as they continue to struggle defensively.
Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk each had 21 points at Utah on Monday, but Boston allowed the Jazz to shoot 55.0 percent in a 110-98 defeat, capping a winless four-game trip.
The Celtics are allowing 104.0 points per game on 49.8 percent shooting during their five-game skid after limiting opponents to an average of 94.8 points on 41.9 percent in winning four of the previous five. However, those victories came against Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Milwaukee - teams with a combined 63-166 record.
Boston is also dealing with its own injury issues, with leading rebounder Jared Sullinger (concussion) and second-leading scorer Avery Bradley (ankle) already ruled out for this contest.
"We're just trying to keep our heads up, keep working," said Olynyk, who bounced back after totaling 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting over his three previous games. "We're banged up."
These clubs split two meetings earlier in the season, each winning on the road. Both teams were scoreless after Teague's free throws with 1:30 left in provided the final points in a 92-91 Atlanta victory on New Year's Eve. Millsap scored a season-high 34 and grabbed 15 rebounds.
The Celtics had won four straight meetings in Boston prior to that contest.