The Atlanta Hawks put together an encouraging performance on Wednesday, competing for 48 minutes despite a loss on the scoreboard. On Friday night, however, there were fewer positive takeaways and, in the end, the Hawks fell to the Boston Celtics by a final score of 129-108.
In an unsightly throwback to the first meeting of the season between the two teams, the Hawks wobbled out of the gate. The Celtics zoomed to a 23-5 run at the outset, burying their first nine shots, and there wasn’t much in the way of resistance from Atlanta.
The Hawks did put together an 8-0 spurt midway through the period to climb within ten but, after that, things got worse in a hurry, as the Celtics enjoyed two separate runs to put space between the two teams on the scoreboard. When the dust settled, the visitors trailed by a 42-19 margin after just 12 minutes (based largely on nine turnovers that led to 20 points) and, aside from the shooting of Kevin Huerter, there wasn’t much to like.
The Hawks did awaken in the second period, though, and that helped to avoid full-fledged disaster. After showing signs of life in the early moments, Atlanta took full advantage of a lull from Boston, scoring 19 (!) consecutive points to climb back into the game.
The run included more knock-down shooting from Huerter.
Kevin Huerter hands. Kevin Huerter 3️⃣. pic.twitter.com/461TcD7h3t— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 15, 2018
From there, the ball movement picked up and many different parties got involved.
Ball never touched the floor. 19-0 run. pic.twitter.com/P9RWMftZPW— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 15, 2018
As you may expect, Atlanta wasn’t able to continue that onslaught, as the Celtics stabilized with a 9-1 run to reassert control in the form of a 12-point lead. Still, the Hawks battled down the stretch of the first half and, all things considered, the team likely took the progress involved in slashing the lead to 11 as a positive sign.
The optimism of the second quarter faded with haste in the third, though, as the Celtics raced to a 13-2 run to open the second half. In the blink of an eye, Atlanta trailed by 22 and things got worse from there, culminating in a 28-point deficit at one point in the period.
Boston’s offense utterly exploded to the tune of 29 points in the first 7:40 of the period (and 41 points overall) and, in short, that was the run that virtually ended the game. Fireworks also arrived in the third when both Kent Bazemore and Lloyd Pierce were hit with technical fouls, with the head coach picking up his first since taking over the team.
The fourth quarter was largely inconsequential but, along the way, Vince Carter did provide a memorable highlight.
Though the end result was less than spectacular, there was one (very) bright spot for the Hawks and it was the play of Huerter. The No. 19 overall pick tied a career-high with 19 points and set another with five threes (on eight attempts), all while providing real value defensively and generally operating at a high level.
Aside from that, however, it was a night to forget. John Collins kept his streak of double-doubles going with 11 points and 14 rebounds and Bazemore added 13 points and seven assists in support. Jeremy Lin (eight points, four assists) also performed well in his first game back from injury, providing a much-needed offensive boost. Elsewhere, it was a struggle for players like Alex Len and Trae Young (nine points on 2 of 11 shooting and 0 of 6 from three), and Atlanta’s defense and ball security were costly to say the least.
After a bit of a short turnaround, the Hawks will return to action on Sunday afternoon with another road game against the Brooklyn Nets. Stay tuned.