Hawks grounded by Celtics, 88-86

730430.jpg

Hawks grounded by Celtics, 88-86

BOSTON The Boston Celtics were coming off an emotionally charged, physically draining win at Miami less than 24 hours earlier, and could not replicate that impressive shooting performance.

But this team is all about getting it done defensively, which they were able to do against Atlanta -- even without their defensive anchor Kevin Garnett, who fouled out in overtime with just under three minutes to play.

Boston didn't have Garnett on the floor for the game's final 2:43, but the C's once again proved that they are more than just a one-man show in defeating the Hawks, 88-86, in overtime.

The game-winning basket was scored by Paul Pierce, but this win was all about the Celtics' defense which was surprisingly effective even without Garnett down the stretch.

When he left the game, the Celtics were leading, 88-84.

A jumper by Atlanta's Kirk Hinrich cut Boston's lead in half which had the feel that the Hawks were about to take off.

Not!

Following a Celtics turnover, the Hawks returned the favor when Josh Smith threw a pass towards Hinrich that rolled out of bounds with less than two minutes to play.

Not to be out-done in the turnover game, Boston then committed a 24-second shot clock violation.

Atlanta had multiple chances of to tie the game or take the lead, only for the Celtics' defense to come up with a much-needed stop.

An offensive foul against Boston's Greg Stiemsma gave the Hawks one more chance, and they made the most of it as Joe Johnson drew a foul against Stiemsma -- his sixth -- which meant both he and Garnett had fouled out.

With only 40.4 seconds to play, the Celtics had a team of Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Mickael Pietrus, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce on the floor -- about as small-ball a lineup as the C's could have.

Boston forced another turnover, but Pierce was then called for an offensive foul with 10.1 seconds to play.

And once again, the C's were in need of a defensive stop.

And once again, they were up to the challenge by forcing Josh Smith into a long 3-pointer that grazed the front of the rim. A mad scramble for the loose ball ensued as it went out of bounds off an Atlanta Hawks player with 1.3 seconds to play which meant all the C's had to do was in-bounds the ball and the win -- and the season series with the Hawks -- was there for the taking.

The Hawks did a nice job of denying the C's attempts at in-bounding the ball, which led Rajon Rondo to call a time-out.

After the 20 second time-out by Boston, the Celtics were able to in-bound the ball to Rondo who quickly tossed it up in the air as time expired. He tallied his sixth triple-double this season with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists. Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds while Brandon Bass had 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawks were led by Smith's 20 points and 11 rebounds while Jef Teague had 21 points.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

BOSTON – The New York Knicks have been in a massive funk of late, something the Boston Celtics had to know which, not surprisingly, would result in them playing with a heightened level of desperation.

That desperation left the Celtics a bit exasperated at the half which ended with a 10-2 run by New York that put them ahead 63-54 at the half.

After falling behind by as many as nine points in the second quarter, the Celtics rallied to within a single point (53-52) following a basket by Isaiah Thomas.

The second quarter was all-New York afterwards.

It was just a one-possession game (Boston led 34-31) for the Celtics going into the second quarter, which was exactly where Boston didn’t want to be against a Knicks team whose bench ranks among the NBA’s highest-scoring second units recently. In their last three games, the Knicks’ bench has averaged 43.0 points per game which according to hoopsstats.com, ranks sixth in the NBA during that span.

At the half, they had 33 points compared to just 12 for Boston’s backups.

Boston fell behind early 9-5, but the Celtics rallied following a time-out with a 15-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics’ lead peaked at nine points on separate occasions in the first, but the Knicks closed out the first with a 12-6 spurt that cut Boston’s lead to 34-31 at the end of the first.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

The former league MVP looked like his old self tonight instead of just old. He led the Knicks with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The Knicks had great success inside the paint against all the Celtics minus Thomas who did much of his dirty work offensively on drives to the basket. At the half he had 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

Boston had problems rebounding the ball, and Hernangomez was the main reason why. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds, three of which were offensive boards.

Jae Crowder

Dealing with Carmelo Anthony is enough to keep Crowder busy tonight. But he’s doing that at a high level in addition to providing a nice punch offensively with 14 points.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

You may not know his name, but his game was pretty impressive in the first half. At the half, he had nine points.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

We’ve seen him air-ball a 3-pointer, miss a lay-up and strguggle to get any shots to go down tonight. At the half, he had three points while missing nine of his 10 shot attempts.

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

avery-bradley.jpg

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

BOSTON – Both New York and Boston will take to the floor tonight minus a starter courtesy of a sore Achilles injury.

For Celtics guard Avery Bradley, tonight will be the fifth time in the last six games that his right Achilles injury will keep him sidelined.

Meanwhile, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis will miss his fourth straight game with a sore left Achilles injury.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis averages 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Porzingis’ absence tonight was established well before tip-off.

“I’d say I’m 90 percent ready; still not there yet,” Porzingis told reporters prior to the game. “But I’m getting closer … hopefully the next game or after the next game.”

As far as Bradley is concerned, he was a last-minute matter.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about his roster earlier tonight, and indicated Tyler Zeller (sinus) and James Young (ankle) would be on the inactive list tonight with injuries.

Without Bradley, the Celtics are expected to start Marcus Smart who has filled in as the team’s starter previously when the 6-foot-2 Bradley was unavailable.

 Bradley is the Celtics' second-leading scorer with 17.7 points per game this season, along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists.