The Celtics fell to 13-18 on the year with a 92-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks this afternoon despite a relatively slow start following the opening tip. Perhaps the mid-week, 1:00 PM start is to blame but, as we know, it would be inappropriate to put the entirety of the blame on those who generate the NBA schedule year in and year out.
The first quarter was tough to watch for fans of both teams as each squad only managed two points in the first four minutes of the period. From there, the two teams inefficiently went through the motions en route to a 23-20 finish to the first in favor of the Celtics. Boston was only able to connect on 39.1 percent of their first quarter field goals but, luckily, the Hawks were slightly worse, converting on just 38.9 percent of theirs.
The second period was a whole different story, though. Courtney Lee fueled a Celtics run with five quick points within the first 30 seconds of the frame. Lee’s rapid production sparked a 13-0 Boston run on the offensive end but it was also enough to energize the team on the defensive side of things. The Celtics held Atlanta scoreless through the first six minutes of the second quarter, allowing the guys in green to open up an 18 point lead. But if you know anything about this year’s Celtics, you know that they’ve struggled to hold on to leads as of late. Apparently the Hawks were aware of that and, in turn, Mike Budenholzer’s crew ripped off a 10-0 run of their own (13-2 run overall) that brought them all the way back to within five points before the half.
Atlanta didn’t miss a beat coming out of the locker room either, continuing their hot play offensively throughout much of the third quarter. In fact, the Hawks had ripped off a 30-6 run between the end of the second period and beginning of the third before Kelly Olynyk halted the Hawks’ efforts with a three pointer midway through the frame. KO went on to score nine points in the quarter, giving the Celtics a 67-62 advantage heading into the fourth.
But wouldn’t you know it, the Celtics let the Hawks climb right back in the game and eventually began trading baskets and trading leads with them in the final minutes of the quarter. Unfortunately, the Celtics couldn’t hang on, though, as the Hawks held a 92-91 advantage with four ticks left on the clock. Jordan Crawford’s contested jumper from the elbow was slightly misfired and despite the efforts of Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries in the second half (combined for 39 of 54 Boston bench points) the Celtics just couldn’t get the job done.
The Celtics will be back at it when they take on the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.