|Hawks G Dennis Schroder helps Celtics G Isiah Thomas up (Bob DeChaira)|
The Hawks got a desperately needed blowout win against a good Boston team to build upon their impressive road resume.
Most of Hawks’ Nation was feeling down coming in to Monday’s contest against the upstart Boston Celtics. And with good reason, the Hawks were coming off of three straight blowout losses. Two of which came to the hands of very sub-par teams. The offense was struggling and stagnant and the defense, three-point defense in particular, was reeling. But as we have seen many times this season, never count out the Hawks on the road versus a good team.
The Hawks came out the gate cold scoring just seven points in the first five minutes. During that time , the Celtics would jump out to a 15-7 lead but it would not last. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks on an 11-0 run from that point to grab a 18-15 lead. The rest of the quarter was a see-saw affair that ended tied at 24 a piece. After another back and forth second quarter, the Hawks led 51-47. Dwight had a strong half dominating Al Horford with ending up with 12 points and 8 rebounds at the break.
|Dwight and Al argue after a hard foul and shove (Charles Krupa)|
Things would get crazy in the 3rd quarter. Dwight took exception after a hard foul on him by Horford and shoved him. Horford went flying from the soft shove and the two had to be separated. Al would go on to jaw and hype up the crowd all while walking away from the situation. After review, Dwight was assessed a technical foul; his 10th of the season. Keep this in mind as it would come back to haunt him in a few minutes. At this point, the game was tied at 55. The Hawks would then go on a 17-6 run to grab a 72-61 lead. With just over four minutes to go in the quarter, Howard went up for a jam and appeared to slightly pull up on the rim. The refs whistled him for a technical foul, his second of the night and was ejected. The NBA would later rule that this call was incorrect and rescinded the tech. The Hawks could’ve folded and allowed the Celtics to come back; however, they responded by expanding the lead. At the end of 3, Atlanta led 84-71. Things would get even better in the 4th where the Hawks would cruise to victory. The lead stretched to as many as 24 points and the Hawks would go on to win with a 114-98 final.
|Dennis and IT (Brian Babineau)|
Leading scorer for the Hawks were Dennis Schroder with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard both recorded double doubles to go along with 17 points. Kent Bazemore chipped in 15 points while Thabo Sefolosha posted 12 in his return and THJ posted 10 to round out the six players in double figures. Tauren Prince chipped in a career high 12 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench.
As for the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas was the only starter to score of six points with 19. His impressive streak of 43 games with 20+ points also came to an end. Former Hawk, Al Horford only managed 6 points and 6 rebounds. Atlanta out rebounded Boston 55-40.
The Hawks now sit at 33-26, good for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. If the season were to end today, the first round matchup would be with the Washington Wizards. Despite sitting in 5th, only 2.5 games separate Atlanta from the #3 seed which should be the ultimate goal by season’s end. Up next are the lowly Dallas Mavericks. The Hawks will have to come out with a similar effort that was seen in this game and must avoid looking ahead to Friday night’s showdown with the reining champion, Cleveland Cavaliers.