USA TODAY Sports
The Hawks jumped out to a 53-38 lead at the half, but the Celtics dominated the third quarter 33-9 to take a nine point lead that they would never relinquish. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points and nine rebounds, while Lou Williams led all scorers with 28 points.
The Hawks came out energized and looked primed to get an easy win over the hated Celtics who looked older, slower, and like the worse team in the first half. Lou Williams had 16 points in the first quarter and finished the half with 21 as he led the Hawks offense that shot 52.5% from the field in the first half (46.7% from three). The Celtics offense looked out of sync in the first half, shooting just 39% from the field and just 1-of-8 from three. Boston out-rebounded Atlanta 21-16 in the first half, but that was in actuality not that much of a gap as the Celtics had four offensive rebounds on one possession (without even scoring).
The Hawks looked like the better team in the first half behind the scorching hot Lou Williams and a very aggressive Jeff Teague. Teague had 13 points and three steals in the first half and was providing the Hawks with the energy Larry Drew wanted. Drew said pre-game that he needed Jeff to be in "attack mode all night," and in the first half Teague delivered.
The third quarter was a completely different story. The Celtics out-scored the Hawks 33-9 with Atlanta shooting a pitiful 14.3% from the field with their only two made baskets coming from three-point range (they only attempted five two-pointers against nine threes). The Hawks turned the ball over seven times to just two Celtics turnovers and allowed Boston to score 10 points off those turnovers. Atlanta was out-rebounded 17-7 (5-1 OR) and allowed the Celtics to catch fire and shoot 56% from the field. Paul Pierce was 6-of-9 from the field and had 17 points in the third quarter as he took full advantage of his matchup with Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson.
The Hawks were never able to cut the lead to fewer than five in the fourth quarter as they continued to shoot poorly (35.7%) and turn the ball over (seven turnovers for nine Celtics points). Boston continued to shoot well and they forced the Hawks to shoot jump shots, which they were unable to knock down. Atlanta falls to 20-12 with the loss and the Celtics get to 16-17. The Hawks crumbled down the stretch shooting just 25% in the second half, and Coach Drew was hot after the game pointing to a lack of mental toughness from his squad as the reason they were unable take the "punch in the mouth" and respond.
Josh Smith finished with a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) but hurt the Hawks with poor shot selection (shooting just 4-of-18 including 1-of-5 from three) and his six turnovers. Teague became passive in the second half on both ends of the floor, scoring just four points in the second half and recording just two assists and zero turnovers. Rajon Rondo finished with a triple-double (a Jason Kidd special) with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.