Rapid Reaction: Celtics 94, Hawks 87
Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 94-87 on Saturday night at Philips Arena:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Despite turning the ball over 19 times (leading to 29 points for Atlanta), the Celtics overcame a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to clip the Hawks and end a six-game losing streak. Jordan Crawford finished with 12 points, 10 assists and three rebounds. He was a team-best plus-24 in plus/minus and hit a pair of big shots down the stretch to help Boston emerge. Brandon Bass, back in a starter's role after Kelly Olynyk sprained his ankle, led six Boston players in double figures with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Jared Sullinger (15 points, nine rebounds) and Jeff Green (16 points, five rebounds) had solid nights as well. Al Horford scored a game-high 18 points to pace Atlanta.
The Celtics were down 12 after a Shelvin Mack jumper with 11:14 to play in the fourth quarter. But the Hawks went on a five-minute scoreless streak -- missing 10 shots during that stretch -- and Boston whittled its deficit down to one. A pair of Bass free throws with 3:31 to play pushed the Celtics ahead, and Crawford made a pair of driving baskets in the final two minutes as the Celtics surged to the finish line.
SULLINGER TAGGED WITH FLAGRANT-1
Sullinger got whistled for a flagrant-1 penalty after a hard, two-handed foul on DeMarre Carroll midway through the third quarter. With Carroll on the break, Sullinger struck down on Carroll's head/shoulders, knocking him to the floor. A flagrant-1 foul is defined as unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. The opposing team is awarded two free throws and possession (Atlanta used that to open a three-point lead in a game that had been tied at 59). Sullinger's flagrant was the team's first of the season. The league reviews all flagrant calls and can reclassify the foul. It can also elect to fine or suspend the player for his actions.
The Celtics had been credited with only one alley-oop dunk this season, but had two in this game. Crawford zipped a beautiful pass high above the 3-point arc near the Celtics bench that Brandon Bass threw down in the first quarter. Later in the first half, Green completed a lob from Crawford. OK, so nobody will mistake this for Lob City, but the Celtics showed they can play above the rim (occasionally).
The Hawks took 21 more shots than Boston but shot just 38.7 percent overall. Boston connected on 45.8 percent of its shots. ... The Celtics lived at the free throw line, making 24 of 31 attempts (the Hawks shot just 12 freebies). ... Boston finished with a 47-38 advantage on the glass. ... Neither Olynyk nor Keith Bogans (illness) made the trip to Atlanta. ... MarShon Brooks logged a healthy DNP.
WHAT IT MEANS
Threatening to taste its first seven-game losing streak since April 2007, Boston (5-10) got its first win since Nov. 11. The Celtics get a day off Sunday as they come off their fifth back-to-back of the season but are off to Charlotte, where they'll complete a stretch of five games in five cities over seven nights (the second such stretch of an insanely game-heavy November). With the possibility that the Celtics will own Atlanta's 2014 first-round draft pick (if the Hawks execute a swap with the Brooklyn Nets), Boston aided its chances at a better pick with Saturday's win.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Tim Kurkjian and Bill Brink about the teams most likely to make a move for Jon Lester. Plus, Matt Gelb on why the Phillies have stayed so quiet.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Jayson Stark talk about the chances that Jon Lester and David Price will be moved before the deadline. Plus, Roch Kubatko on the Orioles' momentum.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi weighs in on the responsibility Tom Brady shoulders for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski's physicality and how New England will use Darrelle Revis.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Alex Speier, Karl Ravech and Justin Havens about whether the Red Sox will move Jon Lester before the trade deadline, pace of play and much more.