First impressions: Hawks 93, Celtics 85
Instant reaction following the Boston Celtics' 93-85 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at Philips Arena:
How the game was won: Rallying from a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit, the Celtics made it a one-possession game twice with under six minutes to play, but simply couldn't stop the Hawks -- namely Jamal Crawford -- when they needed to most. Crawford came off the Atlanta bench to score a team-high 18 points, highlighted by a 3-pointer with 52 seconds to play that put the Hawks on top by nine. Paul Pierce finished with a game-high 21 points, while Kendrick Perkins registered 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics.
Turning point: Boston registered just one field goal -- a 19-foot jumper by Rasheed Wallace -- over a nine-minute stretch in the third quarter in which Atlanta turned a four-point deficit (49-45, 10:00 to go) into a 15-point advantage (68-53, 0:55). The Celtics never fully dug themselves out of that hole and the Hawks finished with a 29-15 scoring advantage in the third frame.
Stat of the game: Crawford connected on 5 of the 6 shots he attempted in the fourth quarter for 14 of his 18 points overall. Crawford finished 7 of 12 shooting overall and made a pair of monster 3-pointers in the final frame.
Unsung hero: Over 28 minutes, Atlanta point guard Mike Bibby registered 17 points and seven assists. More impressively, he finished with a game-best plus-15 in the plus/minus category.
What it means: Playing without Tony Allen (illness), the Celtics were once again shorthanded (of the guys that were previously healthy, not including Marquis Daniels and Kevin Garnett) and simply didn't have any magic left after Wednesday's thrilling win over the Heat. The Celtics looked frustrated in the third quarter as Atlanta cranked up its defensive intensity. Boston visits Toronto Sunday before returning to the TD Garden to host the Hawks Monday as part of a gruesome back-to-back inside a stretch that features four games in five nights.
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