Korver's career-night rallies Hawks

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Korver's career-night rallies Hawks

ATLANTA Kyle Korver is about as one-dimensional a player as you'll find in the NBA.

But that one dimension he brings to the game, 3-point shooting, is pretty damn impressive.

The Boston Celtics will certainly agree after Korver played a pivotal role in leading the Hawks to one of the most improbable victories ever.

Trailing by as many as 27 points to the Celtics, Korver and a slew of 3-point bombs catapulted Atlanta to a 123-111 double overtime win.

"It seemed like everything he was throwing up was going in," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "I was just trying to draw up plays to get the ball in his hands."

And in the second half, most worked as Korver nailed a career-high 8 3-pointers with all coming in the second half. He led all scorers with a season-high 27 points.

"Korver came out (in the third quarter) and got hot, and that changed the game," said Boston's Kevin Garnett.

One of the NBA's best 3-point shooters, Korver has hit at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 37 games which is the longest active streak in the NBA and the second-longest in Hawks history behind Mookie Blalock who drilled at least one 3-pointer in 42 consecutive games.

"When the ones that don't feel good still go in, it's nice," Korver said. "It was just a good shooting night."

To fall behind so deeply so quickly - Boston led by 20 points within a minute into the second quarter - Atlanta had to have someone emerge with a better-than-average kind of game.

In came Korver, who continued to get free possession after possession.

"When you make some shots, you get better screens and you get better passes and things like that," Korver said. "It just happens. Guys did a good job of helping me get open, and passing me the ball in the right spots. I don't create shots on my own. I work off everybody, and try to play good team basketball."

Among those working to free up Korver was Josh Smith, who had a near triple-double of 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

"He (Korver) shot the mess out of it," Smith said. "Without him shooting the ball like that, we didn't have a chance of getting back in the ball game. By him making those shots early on, it kind of drove the momentum to our side. Everybody else looked a little bit more enthused."

And the Hawks got a hard-earned win courtesy of Korver delivering the one thing he does as good as anyone in the NBA - the 3-pointer.

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.