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Key Moment

How did the Celtics do it? We may never be able to figure it out.

Boston defied all mathematical logic Wednesday night by knocking off the East’s best team, 89-88.

Why was this victory so improbable?

Let’s start with the fact that the Celtics shot 18.5 percent during the first quarter en route to 13 points. Then they shot 31.8 percent during the second quarter en route to 21 points. Things didn’t get much better during the third, as they nailed just 36.0 percent of their attempts during the third period en route to 27 points.

That type of shooting typically leads to large deficit. Wednesday was no exception.

Boston fell behind by as many as 18 points during the contest. It trailed by as many as 14 points during the fourth quarter.

Then the Celtics made their run.

Powered by some hot perimeter shooting – a rarity on this night – the Celtics got back into this one in a hurry. Their 14-point deficit was sliced all the way down to two when Marcus Smart swished home a trey from the left wing with 2:18 remaining on the clock. That moment marked the first instance in which the contest was a one-possession game since Kyle Korver’s opening basket.

The teams went back and forth over the final two-plus minutes, and the final ‘forth’ decided the game.

Evan Turner, who has been Boston’s Clutch Player of the Year, added another game-winner to his mantle. Boy, was this one a beaut.

Turner drove to the rack as the game clock wound down and tossed a high floater over a crop of defenders that touched nothing but net as it fell to the floor. The ball passed through the rim with just 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock.

You want electric? This was electric. An 18-point lead was erased, the Celtics were on their way to a monumental win, and TD Garden was going absolutely crazy. The Jungle, as they call it, was rocking again.

Atlanta’s last desperation play was futile; the Hawks didn’t even get a shot off.

The Boston Celtics succeeded in knocking off the East’s best team in an unbelievable game. They now head into the All-Star break having gone 7-5 over their last 12 contests.

Key Player

Most Celtics struggled in this matchup with the Hawks. Jared Sullinger most certainly was not in that group.

Sullinger was a force – a dominant force – throughout Wednesday’s contest against the East’s best team. He went toe-to-toe with All-Star center Al Horford all night long. Sullinger finished the contest with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Horford tallied a game-high 22 points to go with 12 boards.

The majority of Sully’s impressive performance played out over the first three quarters. The third-year big man had accumulated a clean double-double of 12 points and 13 boards over the first 36 minutes alone.

Sullinger’s big night marked his 12th double-double of the season. By the way, did we mention that he did all of this during only 28-plus minutes of playing time?

Yeah, that’s prime time. Sullinger is turning the corner.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston scored 27 points during the third quarter and 28 during the fourth quarter after scoring a total of just 34 during the first half.
  • Boston committed only 12 turnovers, while Atlanta committed 12.
  • The C's limited Kyle Korver, who entered the game shooting 52.8 percent from long range, to 1-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.
  • Jared Sullinger grabbed five offensive rebounds, matching Atlanta's team total.
  • Sullinger also accumulated a team-high 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
  • Al Horford notched the game's other double-double with a game-high 22 points to go with 12 boards.
  • Evan Turner flirted with a triple-double by notching 12 points, a game-high nine assists and seven rebounds.
  • The C's won despite shooting just 32.3 percent from the field.
  • Boston shot 32.3 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from 3-point range.
  • The only lead change of the night arrived with 0.2 seconds remaining, when Turner nailed the game-winning basket.
  • Boston outscored Atlanta 23-6 in second-chance points.
  • Both teams attempted seven fast break shots, but the Hawks outscored the C's in that category by a count of 17-4.
  • Boston's scoring increased in every quarter, from 13 to 21 to 27 to 28.
  • Marcus Thornton came off the bench to score 14 points. He made four of his six 3-point attempts.
  • Six Celtics grabbed at least five rebounds.
  • Jeff Teague, the game's shortest starter, led the contest in blocked shots with two.

Quote of the Night

I think we’re 20-31, so I’m not ready to anoint us the Comeback Crew yet.

Brad Stevens on the Celtics' propensity to stage comebacks.

Key Player
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