Rapid Reaction: Hawks 123, C's 111 (2 OT)
THE NITTY GRITTY
The Celtics hit a new low while dropping their sixth straight, finding a way to suffer a double-digit loss in a game they once led by 27. Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds before fouling out in the second overtime, while Jeff Green (17 points), Courtney Lee (16 points) and Jason Terry (12 points) keyed an inspired bench effort. With the benefit of two extra sessions, Rajon Rondo posted his second triple-double in as many nights, finishing with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds over 40 minutes. Atlanta's Kyle Korver erupted for a game-high 27 points behind eight 3-pointers and single-handedly kept the Hawks in the game in the fourth quarter. Al Horford added 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Josh Smith finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
A GAME OF RUNS
There's something about Philips Arena that brings out major swings in momentum when these two teams meet. Earlier this month in Atlanta, the Celtics rallied from a 19-point deficit to edge the Hawks in the first meeting of the season. On Friday, the Celtics utilized a 25-5 first-quarter run to open as much as a 27-point first-half lead. The Hawks responded by embarking on a 19-0 run in a dominant third quarter to tie the game. Boston was 0-for-8 shooting with five turnovers while Atlanta took over and Smith's running layup evened the game at 59 with 6:16 to play in the frame. It was just an appetizer in Atlanta's comeback effort.
TURNING POINT: KORVER TAKES OVER
Korver went from sizzle to sear as he unleashed a fourth-quarter 3-point barrage. Early on, he put the Hawks up by 3, but Boston came back to build a 10-point cushion with 4:44 to go. That was nothing with Korver on fire. Three more triples (along with a 3-pointer from Jeff Teague) helped the Hawks improbably tie the game again at 98 with a minute to go. Both teams had chances to win it over the final 60 ticks, but Boston went the final 3:39 of regulation without a field goal and the game spilled into overtime when Smith missed an attempt next to the basket in the final second.
DOUBLE ORDER OF FREE BASKETBALL
The seesaw ride continued into overtime, but Boston had the best chance to win the game on the final possession of the first session. Instead, Pierce's isolation drive on Smith yielded a tipped shot that had absolutely no chance. In the second overtime, Smith produced an old-fashioned three-point play and the Hawks found themselves up by double digits before Pierce produced Boston's first bucket of the second session.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics hit rock bottom in Atlanta. Even amid this season-long six-game losing streak, there was some positive energy after a gritty effort against the Knicks on Thursday night. But in fumbling away a 27-point cushion, the Celtics are left reeling. Boston gets a day to rest its weary legs before hosting the East-leading Miami Heat in Ray Allen's return to TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
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