It was anything but perfect, but after a 48-minute battle with the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks emerged with a crucial victory by the final score of 105-97. The opening moments on Wednesday were the complete opposite of Tuesday's disaster, as the Hawks came out on the offensive, both literally and figuratively. Atlanta converted 5 of their first 6 shots in route to a 12-2 opening run, and after less than 9 minutes of play, the Hawks had 26 points on just 13 field goal attempts on the way to a 14-point lead. The onslaught slowed a bit near the end of the quarter (with some help from a buzzer-beating three by Boston's Chris Johnson), but when the dust settled, it was a 32-point quarter that saw the home team shoot 14 of 18 from the field (78%) with a 9-point advantage. For a brief moment, it looked as if the Hawks would utterly cruise for the duration, as they built a 14-point lead midway through the 2nd quarter on the strength of a 4-for-4 start from 3-point range (after a dismal 9-for-35 showing on Tuesday). However, the Celtics wouldn't fade away without any sort of a fight, as Boston charged to a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 49-44 with 2:33 remaining. From there, the two teams traded mini-runs (as Rajon Rondo caught fire with 7 points down the stretch), and the Hawks took a 5-point lead into halftime. Offensively, it was an incredible half for the Hawks, as they finished with 62% shooting and 17 assists despite a relative "slow down" in the second quarter. The defense, however, wasn't as stellar, with Boston shooting 50% from both the floor and from 3-point range, and Atlanta's 5-point lead felt quite hollow considering how lights-out the entire team (seven players with 5+ points in the 1st half) was offensively in the early going. The post-halftime Hawks were certainly not even as effective as the early Hawks, however, as the Celtics throttled Atlanta in the third quarter. Boston scored the first 5 points of the third to tie the game, and after a back-and-forth segment, the C's went on a 10-0 run to take the lead at 71-66. Rajon Rondo was the catalyst for the visitors, as he accounted for all 10 points (2 field goals, 3 assists), and the Hawks were slow to respond. Even after Atlanta woke up a bit to climb within one, Boston slammed the quarter door with a 6-0 run that ended with a buzzer-beating three to give them an inexplicable 7-point lead with 12 minutes to play. Atlanta wouldn't go quietly into the night (copyright, Independence Day), though, as the run was coming. After a lackluster 6 minute period to start the 4th quarter, Atlanta trailed 89-80 with just 5:26 to play, but from that point, the team blitzed forward on a 19-3 run that was started by Jeff Teague (three and fast break dunk) and highlighted by Kyle Korver (back-to-back threes). That spurt gave the good guys a 99-92 lead with 1:13 to play, and with the Cletics utterly rudderless on offense down the stretch, the somewhat unlikely victory was sealed.
Atlanta escapes with 105-97 victory over Boston
Peachtree Hoops | Apr 10