Celtics hold on to beat Hawks, 79-76


Celtics hold on to beat Hawks, 79-76

ATLANTA One by one, the opportunities were there for the Boston Celtics.

And one by one, the Atlanta Hawks found a way to turn them back.

That is, until it mattered most - the fourth quarter.

In a game that in many ways was vintage Boston Celtics, the Green Team turned up the intensity at both ends of the floor and rallied for a 79-76 win.

Atlanta, led by Joe Johnson, refused to go away quietly even after the Celtics seemingly had the game under control.

He finished with a game-high 25 points which included a 3-pointer that cut Boston's lead to just one point with less than 10 seconds to play. But a pair of free throws by Ray Allen who led the Celtics with 19 points, secured the win.

That, and an air ball in the closing seconds by Jeff Teague.

Even as they squandered so many chances during the first three quarters to tie the game or take the lead, their confidence in getting the win never faded.

During time-outs throughout the game, you could still hear the likes of Paul Pierce reminding his teammates to, "keep grinding."

And that's what they did, blowing the game wide open with a 23-7 run to start the fourth which gave them a 73-58 lead.

But the Hawks (26-20) were proving to be a grind-it-out club as well, continuing to battle back in the game's closing minutes.

A pair of free throws by Zaza Pachulia cut Boston's lead to 75-68.

And after a Celtics miss, Joe Johnson brought the Hawks even closer with a 3-pointer that made it a 75-71 game with 57.4 seconds to play.

Boston (24-21), sensing a great rally was gradually fading into another unforgettable collapse, called a time-out.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers as well as some players pointed toward this week's games, beginning with Atlanta, being pivotal to their plans for a strong postseason push.

The Hawks are one of the teams the C's know they have to pass in order to finish with the highest possible seeding. Up next is Milwaukee (20-24), a team that's on the Celtics' heels that has won five in a row.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."

Quick Slants the Podcast: Who's been better for the Patriots, Welker or Edelman?

Quick Slants the Podcast: Who's been better for the Patriots, Welker or Edelman?

Phil Perry and CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran debate which receiver has been better for the Patriots: Wes Welker or Julian Edelman? It's part of this edition of Quick Slants The Podcast.