On a night when the Atlanta Hawks struggled mightily from the perimeter, they managed to escape with a hard-fought victory. Paul Millsap exploded for 15 points in the fourth quarter, and behind a strong team-wide comeback, the Hawks gathered an impressive 109-101 win despite trailing for much of the night in Boston.
The Hawks struggled offensively from the outset and, in fact, both teams put together a disastrous start to the game. The first basket of the night for either squad came at the 9:21 mark of the first quarter (courtesy of Al Horford), and on the side of Atlanta, that slow start extended to the tune of only 19 points in the opening quarter.
The Hawks did their best to stay close, keeping the deficit manageable despite a 40% shooting clip and 1 for 11 from three-point land in the first half, and Boston allowed the road team to hang around. Much of that was due to 13 first-half turnovers from the Celtics, but the Hawks closed the half on a 13-4 run as the offense came alive, and that slashed the deficit to just one point by the break.
Atlanta kept that going with the first five points of the second half, taking a brief lead, but Boston took control back and the Celtics would hold that control for most of the third quarter. On cue, though, the Hawks made another late push to end the third quarter (trailing by only two), and final period on this night belonged to Millsap and Atlanta.
The most important run of the evening came in the form of a 13-4 spurt that gave the Hawks a 97-92 lead, and Millsap was in the middle of everything offensively. From that point forward, the Hawks maintained a somewhat comfortable lead, and the theme was "taking care of business" in the closing seconds as Atlanta pushed ahead while finishing off a 109-101 win.
From an individual perspective, Millsap was certainly one hero given his late-game heroics, but there were a few standout performances. Al Horford put together a vintage Al Horford game, scoring 21 points (including a dagger jumper down the stretch) and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Dennis Schröder played the final 16-plus minutes in place of Jeff Teague while tallying 22 points, 5 assists and 4 steals on the night.
The Hawks will close the quick, two-game road trip with a game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, but as the weekend arrives, Atlanta will be able to celebrate what was a very nice road win in Boston.