It certainly wasn't easy but the Atlanta Hawks will probably take it. One night after laying an egg against the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks used a late 19-3 run in the fourth quarter to erase a nine point deficit to escape with a 105-97 win over the Boston Celtics.
"It was a good team win," said head coach Mike Budenholzer. "You look at the boxscore and you see that we had contributions and effort all up and down the boxscore. We had a resilient group out there. To bounce back from a tough loss last night and bounce back from Boston making a run at us and going up nine, it just speaks to the character of our group and the resiliency of our group. We did it together and that's what we want to do. That's what we're going to do going forward, so I'm happy for our guys."
Atlanta saw an early 14 point lead disappear and came out cold in the third quarter to put themselves in jeopardy. The Hawks scored just 14 points in the third and hit just five of 20 field goal attempts. As has been the case for much of the season, it was their defense that picked up their offense in the fourth quarter.
"Our defensive effort is really what fueled it," said Budenholzer. "We picked up our pressure and our effort. We got some turnovers and some steals that led to transition baskets, especially a couple of those transition threes for Kyle. That fueled us. When we were in the half court, the ball moved and our spacing was good. We found the right guy at the right time, and we were able to execute."
Perhaps there is no better symbol of that defensive effort than Hawks reserve center Elton Brand who got the start for the injured Pero Antic and responded with 13 points, 13 rebounds, three-assists, three steals to go along with a blocked shot.
"I saw the pace improve," said Brand. "We got the ball up, got Kyle some open looks, got Paul to the rim. It starts on defense. Once we got some stops, we could run it down the court."
The win reduces Atlanta's magic number to just two to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are in the midst of a four games in five days stretch. They will enjoy an off day on Thursday before taking on Brooklyn and Miami on Friday and Saturday. New York hasn't played since Sunday and heads to Toronto on Friday before returning home to face the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
- Turnovers played a huge part in this one. Both teams finished with 16 but Atlanta scored 23 points off of the Celtics' miscues. Boston turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter alone leading to 17 points for the Hawks.
- Atlanta shot 53 percent from the field for the game and has finished above 50 percent in three of their last four games.
- Assists are usually a good barometer to how Atlanta is doing on offense. They recorded 30 on 40 made field goals against the Celtics. Jeff Teague and Shelvin Mack combined for 13 of that total.
- Lou Williams returned to the court after a two game absence and finished with nine points and two assists on 3-4 shooting in 17 minutes.