The Atlanta Hawks were back on the road Friday night when they ventured to TD Garden in Boston to face off against the Celtics for the third time this season. With the Celtics missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward due to injury, the Hawks seemed poised to give the Eastern Conference leaders all they could handle.
Atlanta’s inactives for Friday’s game included only DeAndre’ Bembry, who did not play as he continues his rehab from a left adductor strain and has been shooting with the team as he nears a return.
The game started out pretty slow for both teams with the Celtics getting some early offense from rookie Jayson Tatum and third year man Terry Rozier. The Hawks countered by getting Dennis Schroder involved along with getting Taurean Prince back on track.
Kent Bazemore had some great minutes on both ends getting under the young Jaylen Brown’s skin on defense and being a real playmaker for the Hawks on offense. Marco Belinelli was able to get to the free throw line six times in the first and made all six, giving Atlanta a big boost off the bench. The Hawks closed well for one of their best quarters of the season and carried a 32-26 lead into the second quarter.
Taurean Prince really caught fire to open the second quarter with back to back three pointers. John Collins had a really nice alley-oop finish from Malcolm Delaney as the Hawks started to build a lead. The Celtics were shaky on offense but were able to get a few friendly rolls to keep the game within reach. The game lulled late in the second, but the Celtics finished on an 8-2 run and took just a 2-point deficit into halftime, 55-53.
The third quarter started strong for Boston, as they decided to get Al Horford the ball in the post and Al took advantage of Ersan big time. The Hawks got a good boost of offense from Dennis Schroder and Marco Belinelli but started to lose ground quickly as Terry Rozier of all people started to torch the Hawks from deep. The Hawks worked hard to keep things close late in the quarter but could not stop Terry Rozier and dug themselves a deep hole going into the fourth down by a 94-75 margin.
The Hawks did their best to get things back to basics early on in the fourth and then Taurean Prince took over for Atlanta hitting back to back threes before knocking down four consecutive free throws. He then capped his explosion with a three-point play. With just over six minutes to play, Atlanta had the lead cut to just 10 and, within 30 seconds, were down 15 just like that. It was all downhill from that point and Atlanta went on to lose their 37th game of the season.
Taurean Prince finished with a career high 31 points in the loss and Dennis Schroder added 25 more but the Celtics were simply too much.
The Hawks will play again on Super Bowl Sunday in a match-up against the Knicks at noon. Stay tuned.