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Celtics pull away late, beat Hawks 125-117

It wasn’t their best outing, but the Cs got the job done at home.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

All streaks must come to an end... just not tonight.

The Boston Celtics entered this matchup having won six straight regular season matchups against the Atlanta Hawks, and that number extended to seven following their win on Wednesday night.

The Celtics immediately went mismatch hunting for Kristaps Porzingis with Clint Capela sidelined, as the 7’3 unicorn boasted a significant size advantage over Onyeka Okongwu and the rest of Atlanta’s starting five.

Tatum proceeded to pick apart the Hawks as Boston’s primary playmaker, racking up a pair of dimes and a nice transition hockey assist in the first couple minutes. Potential Celtics trade target Saddiq Bey continued his trend of performing well in TD Garden, racking up seven quick points to jumpstart Atlanta’s offense. He finished the quarter in double digits.

Joe Mazzulla opted for a double-big lineup featuring Porzingis and Luke Kornet halfway through the first, which saw mixed results against a smaller Atlanta squad. The Cookies and Cream duo paced Boston’s offense, as Jaylen Brown finished the quarter with 8 and Porzingis racked up 10.

Tatum opened his scoring with just over two minutes left in the first quarter on a midrange fadeaway followed by a physical drive that resulted in free throws. A couple possessions later, the superstar hit a pull-up three.

The Celtics’ pace was a bit slower than usual and the threes weren’t falling at their typical clip — just 2-9 from long range — which resulted in a 37-35 lead for Atlanta at the end of the first.

Fans were treated to a rare Al Horford takeover to start the second quarter, as the big man scooped and scored off a Trae Young turnover, followed by a catch-and-shoot triple. The 37-year-old hit another three a couple minutes later to bump his point total up to 11 early.

The Hawks gave Boston relatively consistent problems in the pick-and-roll, which resulted in far too many good looks for Mazzulla’s liking.

Oshae Brissett brought his trademarked energy and aggressiveness on the boards in a brief stint, making his case to remain in Boston’s rotation on the eve of the NBA trade deadline.

Bey continued to torch the Cs in a myriad of methods, while Brown responded with a mini-run of his own to keep the score tight. The game really opened up in the final minutes of the first half as both squads ran the floor on virtually every possession, resulting in a slim 71-67 lead for the Celtics. On Boston’s side, Horford, Porzingis and Brown had all racked up at least 14 points, while Atlanta’s own trio of Young, Bey and Okongwu found themselves in double-digits at the break.

The opening minutes of the second half were full of sloppy basketball and missed shots on both sides, but back-to-back thunderous alley-oops from Porzingis and Okongwu woke up the two sides.

This game seemed to fluctuate between two extremes: mundane inefficiency and All-Star Game highlights in transition.

Horford reinvigorated the crowd with a great hustle play to set up a Payton Pritchard three on the other end of the floor. Porzingis rattled off a series of buckets in quick succession, including another monstrous jam over Okongwu, who made a business decision and watched from the floor.

However, Atlanta managed to stay within striking distance due to Boston’s poor three-point shooting, as the Cs held onto a 95-90 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Celtics opened up the fourth with a string of tough defensive stops, which allowed them to open up their largest lead of the game. Unsurprisingly, a lot of that went through Derrick White, who continues to show up when called upon. The versatile guard hit three triples in the first four minutes to push Boston’s lead to 11.

Luke Kornet gave his squad strong minutes throughout the first half of the final quarter on both ends of the court, allowing Boston to extend the lead without their top scorer on the floor. When Kristaps did finally check back in, he immediately picked up where he left off with a bucket.

Like we’ve seen quite frequently at the Garden this season, Boston’s late-game execution once again proved to be the difference. An 8-0 Hawks run suddenly brought them within five points, but Porzingis capped off a terrific performance with a dagger three to put this one out of reach.

Kristaps led all scorers with 31 points, while White poured in 21 and Tatum hit 20. Horford put together a fantastic all-around night with 14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four blocks and two steals.

Next up, the Celtics host the Washington Wizards on Friday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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