Horford out, Pachulia game-time decision for Hawks


Horford out, Pachulia game-time decision for Hawks

ATLANTA The Boston Celtics aren't the only ones with a weakened roster due to injuries.

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew confirmed that Al Horford will not play in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Horford had left pectoral surgery earlier this year and has missed all but 11 games this season.

The Hawks aren't sure if they'll have Horford's replacement, Zaza Pachulia available, either. He is suffering from a sprained left foot injury.

Drew said the team will not decide until shortly before tip-off if he will play on Sunday.

The Hawks have used Jason Collins at center lately, but won't rule out sliding Josh Smith over to the middle or possibly giving more minutes in the frontcourt to rookie Ivan Johnson or veteran Erick Dampier.

"We've had that issue a great majority of the season," Drew said. "Obviously with Al being gone, we've had games with Zaza out and we've made the adjustments. Obviously, Jason Collins is a guy that we like in this type of position because he's done so well with it. And we can go small at the five-spot, playing Josh at the five, Ivan at the five or we may move Damp, and give him some minutes. We're going to have to feel our way through this."

Smith, who averages a team-high 9.6 rebounds per game, is well aware that he and the rest of his teammates have to pick it up on the boards against the Celtics who come into Sunday's game as one of the NBA's worst - No. 29, to be exact - rebounding teams this season. The Hawks have had their problems as well, also ranking in the NBA's bottom 10 in rebounds per game.

"We gotta gang rebound," Smith told CSNNE.com. "Players have to get in there and rebound, including the guards."

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

BOSTON – When the fourth quarter rolled around on Friday night, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a down-to-the-wire fight with the Sacramento Kings. 

It was the kind of game that in the past has brought out the scrappy, get-it-done-somehow brand of basketball that has in many ways come to define the Celtics under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens. 

And it was on full display Friday night as the Celtics made all the big plays at both ends of the floor down the stretch to beat the Sacramento Kings, 97-92. 

After Sacramento cut Boston’s lead to 90-87, Al Horford drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game again. 

Isaiah Thomas came up with a pair of free throws that turned out to be huge, because shortly after he made them the Kings got a 3-pointer from DeMarcus Cousins that made it a 95-92 game.

The Kings had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth when Horford was credited with his sixth block of the game, this time on DeMarcus Cousins.

Horford was immediately fouled and went to the free throw line where he sealed the victory by making a pair.

Those were the kind of plays we saw often last season being made by the Celtics who finished in a tie for the third-best record in the East. 

This year, not so much. 

“For the most part we got what we wanted (in the fourth quarter) and we got the stops we needed even,” Thomas said. 

Which is the kind of game Jae Crowder and the rest of the guys who have been here awhile, have grown accustomed to.

“We got back to being the aggressive team,” Crowder said. “We came out and imposed our will early; that helped. But if the game comes down to what it was tonight, we have to be the team that comes out on top. It was like a playoff game, real physical. We have to grit it out, grind it out.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.



Al Horford

So this is what an ultra-aggressive Al Horford looks like? The four-time All-Star had a season-high 26 points which included knocking down four three-pointers to go with eight rebounds and six blocked shots – yes, six blocked shots.

DeMarcus Cousins

While his fiery temper hasn’t died down completely, his incredible offensive skills and brute strength is what folks are talking more about, finally. He led the Kings with a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and four blocked shots.  



Isaiah Thomas

His streak of being Boston’s outright scoring leader ended at 14 games, but he’s more than happy to take a back seat for one night if it means getting a victory. Horford led the charge on Friday night, but Thomas still chipped in with 20 points, seven assists and two steals. 

Matt Barnes

Although he missed eight of his 11 shots from the field, the 36-year-old Barnes was rewarded for his hustle and effort as he finished with a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Jae Crowder

Boston needed tough plays to be made on Friday and Crowder was up the challenge all night. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Good things happened when he was on the floor, evident by his game-high plus/minus of +15.



Rudy Gay

He finished with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting but the Kings needed more from their second-leading scorer who finished almost seven points below his 19.6 points per game average. That stands out on a night when the Kings lost by just five points.