The Atlanta Hawks beat the Boston Celtics by a score of 114-98. Earning their first win since the All-Star break and turning in a nice defensive performance, the Hawks played well from start to finish. After losing the first game against Boston, this was a nice bounce-back victory.
After two consecutive flat performances, the Hawks turned in a nice first-half performance. The score was 24-24 after the first quarter, but Atlanta led 51-47 at halftime. Both teams struggled offensively, and the Hawks built this lead largely through defense and rebounding. Dwight Howard led the way with eight rebounds, and the Hawks held a 32-21 advantage in that category.
The true drama in this game started in the third quarter, as Howard seemed to corral Isaiah Thomas around the neck during a defensive possession. The officials only gave Howard a common foul for the play, but Al Horford fouled Howard on the other end of the court not long after. Howard, seemingly annoyed, pushed Horford after the play and received a technical foul.
The two teams quieted down after this long enough for Howard to receive another technical foul (and an ejection) on a pull-up following a dunk. This was a questionable call (to put it lightly), but it looked like it might swing the balance of the game. Without Howard’s rebounding for the rest of the game, a Boston comeback seemed pretty likely as Atlanta ended the third quarter leading 84-71.
The Celtics comeback never happened. Whether it was a Hawks team that was more fired up after Howard’s ejection, a Boston team that just couldn’t get past a strong defensive performance, or just a continuation of how the game had gone before that, Atlanta held on to get the win. The teams continued to skirmish — Mike Budenholzer complained about a Isaiah Thomas elbow to Millsap’s face in the final minutes — but the game never changed course after Howard’s ejection.
Up next, the Hawks will face the Dallas Mavericks in Atlanta. The team will look to carry the momentum from tonight’s victory into their next few games.