Keys to the Game: Celtics 110, Hawks 107
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
The Boston Celtics Monday night nearly joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as the second team to fall victim to the last-place Atlanta Hawks over a 24-hour span. However, unlike the Cavs, who lost to Atlanta by two points Sunday night on their home court, Boston had a player that was able to close out the Hawks.
That player was Kyrie Irving.
The four-time All-Star experienced plenty of success closing out games during his first six seasons as a Cavalier, but now the Celtics are reaping the benefits of his crunch-time abilities.
Irving scored 12 of his season-high 35 points during the fourth quarter of Monday night’s contest in Atlanta, including eight points during the final three minutes of play.
Boston was trailing 100-99 with 2:48 remaining in the game, when Irving began to go to work.
The point guard's first bucket was made easy by Al Horford, as Boston’s big man fed him over the top for a wide-open, uncontested layup that put the Celtics ahead, 101-100.
Atlanta’s Malcolm Delaney responded on the next possession with a 3-pointer that put the Hawks back up by two; but Irving shot right back with a trey of his own off of a dribble handoff from Horford at the top of the arc.
Irving’s fellow Duke alumnus Jayson Tatum chipped in to help, as the rookie wing hit a 3-pointer to put Boston ahead, 107-103, with 47.6 seconds remaining.
Then it was back to Irving, who iced the cake with a midrange floating-jumper over Dennis Schroder with 20.3 seconds left on the clock.
Irving finished off his scoring run by going 1-of-2 from the free-throw line during the closing moments, as he just about single-handedly closed out the Hawks, while leading the C’s to their ninth straight win by a score of 110-107.
Kyrie Irving was undoubtedly the hero of Monday's win in Atlanta, but Al Horford deserves just as much credit for keeping the Celtics in the game, thanks to his outstanding all-around play.
Last season, Horford struggled mightily against his former Hawks team, as he averaged just 6.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during three matchups.
Monday night was a much different story.
Horford came one assist shy of logging his second career triple-double, as he notched 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Two of those assists were critical during crunch time, as he fed a red-hot Irving for consecutive go-ahead buckets.
It's always sweet for Horford to grab a win at Philips Arena, the venue that he called home for nine years before coming to Boston. It's even sweeter when he does so while putting together such a strong, all-around effort like he did Monday night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving led all scorers with a season-high 35 points, to go along with seven assists.
- His point guard counterpart, Dennis Schroder, led the Hawks with 23 points.
- Al Horford fell one dime shy of his second career triple-double as he logged 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
- Boston's starters outscored Atlanta's starters, 84-63.
- Jayson Tatum posted a game-best plus-15 while notching 21 points and eight rebounds.
- Atlanta shot 50 percent (13-of-26) from the 3-point arc.
- The Celtics made one more 3-pointer than the Hawks, but also attempted 10 more from beyond the arc.
- Atlanta big man Dewayne Dedmon led the game with 12 rebounds, to go along with 19 points.
- The C's out-rebounded the Hawks, 42-36.
- No Celtics starter turned the ball over more than two times.
- Tatum recorded two of Boston's three blocked shots on the night.
Quote of the Night
We understand what we've got to demand from each other. We've just got to have this on a consistent basis.
Kyrie Irving on Boston's strong stretch of wins.