The Atlanta Hawks were without head coach Mike Budenholzer, as assistant Kenny Atkinson took over head coaching duties for Bud while he tends to a family emergency in Atlanta. The Hawks announced Budenholzer's absence early Friday afternoon.
In the first quarter, the Hawks shot 55 percent, compared to the Celtics 33 percent. Paul Millsap led the offensive attack with 10 points in the quarter on 4-of-5 shooting. The Celtics were 2-of-9 on 3-pointers in the quarter, but outrebounding the Hawks 16 to 9. Jared Sullinger was their top performer of the quarter, with 6 points and bringing in 4 rebounds. The Hawks took a 26-23 lead going into the second quarter, despite having such a higher shooting percentage.
The Celtics and the Hawks played another close-scoring quarter in the second quarter. The largest lead by any team in the quarter was four, held by the Hawks at 30-26. Jeff Teague appeared to severely roll his ankle in the closing seconds of the second quarter, but he would limp off of the floor under his own power.
Teague would come back out in the third quarter despite the rolled ankle. The third quarter was much like the first and second, with both teams trading baskets, until the Hawks took a 60-59 lead. After that point, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to take a 68-60 lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The Celtics would slightly increase that lead, taking an 80-69 lead into the fourth quarter. Isaiah Thomas, Amir Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk led the charge for the Celtics in the quarter with 11 and 8 points apiece respectively.
Boston got off to a quick start in the fourth quarter, getting two quick baskets after a Dennis Schroder jumper to extend their lead to 15 points, with all of the momentum in their favor. Schorder would counter that momentum with a few free throws, and a drive to the basket to give him seven early points in the quarter and keep the Hawks in the game.
The Hawks defense and ability to get to the free throw line really helped the Hawks narrow the lead. The Celtics appeared hesitant to take shots, and the Hawks were all over the ball. Dennis Schorder's defense really shook up Isaiah Thomas, and Mike Muscala had 7 points in the first five minutes of the quarter, five of them on the free throw line. The Hawks were able to trim the deficit to 86-83 with just under 7 minutes left.
The Celtics were able to pull away late in the fourth, surviving the Hawks surge thanks to a pair of Isaiah Thomas 3-pointers and an Evan Turner jumper. The game was as close as 96-93 with just three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics would go on a 13-0 run, and win by a final score of 106-93.
The Hawks will try to rebound Sunday at home against the Utah Jazz.