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Hawks fall just short in back-and-forth loss to Celtics, 110-107

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That was a close one.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of a strong (and fun) performance from the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon, the team faced another big-time test in the form of the Boston Celtics. While the final result was not a win, Mike Budenholzer’s team put together yet another encouraging effort in a 110-107 loss.

The evening began in back-and-forth fashion, as the Hawks scored four straight to open the night before Boston responded with nine consecutive points of their own. That was indicative of what was to come before halftime, as the two sides played a (very) fast paced first quarter that doubled as anything but an offensive bonanza.

The visiting Celtics scored at a clip of just 0.91 points per possession in the first quarter but Boston held a one-point lead on the heels of Atlanta’s offensive struggles. Fortunately, the Hawks would improve considerably on the way to 29 points in the second quarter but Boston’s offense also saw an uptick in conjunction.

Boston used a 9-0 run between the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarter to claim the advantage but, with the insertion of a three-PG (yes, you’re reading that right) lineup, the Hawks slowed that momentum. From there, Kyrie Irving (16 points in the half) was fantastic but Atlanta’s offense (55 percent shooting including 13 points from Dewayne Dedmon on nine attempts) was able to keep the pace on the way to a tie score at the break.

There was no shortage of drama in the second half, even as it appeared Boston may run away and hide. The Celtics scored 13 straight points in the third quarter (with some help from Kent Bazemore) and that placed the visitors in the driver’s seat. Not to be outdone, though, the Hawks would awaken.

As part of the response, John Collins did a thing.

In addition, back-to-back threes from Malcolm Delaney and Bazemore capped a 15-4 run to give the Hawks the lead midway through the fourth quarter. That ensured a competitive product until the very end, even as Atlanta gave away a few opportunities to pick up the upset win in the final minutes.

Delaney gave the Hawks a (very) late lead with a three-pointer within the final two minutes but it was quickly erased with a three from Kyrie Irving on the other end. After two empty trips for Atlanta, Boston rookie Jayson Tatum essentially shut the game down with a corner three to buoy the Celtics to a four-point advantage with 46.7 seconds remaining.

All told, it was a strong showing for the home team, led by a double-double from Dewayne Dedmon, a prolific scoring effort from Dennis Schröder and good production from the bench duo of Malcolm Delaney and Marco Belinelli. The Hawks will now enjoy three days off before taking on the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Stay tuned.