The Hawks won a bizarre game Tuesday night as they came back from a 23-point first-half deficit to defeat the Celtics, 109-105. The Hawks outscored the Celtics 59-39 in the second half.
Kyle Korver scored 24 points, including six 3-pointers. Dennis Schroder played the final 15 minutes in place of Jeff Teague and scored a career-high 15 points.
It was the third straight victory over the Hawks (10-6). They have also won nine of their past 12 games.
The Hawks take to the road for games against the Heat (Wednesday) and the Nets (Friday).
Here are my five observations from Tuesday’s win:
1. Well, so much for those tough defensive starts. After allowing just 28 first-half points in each of the past two games, the Celtics lit up the Hawks early. They scored 42 first-quarter points on a torrid 77.3 percent shooting (17 of 22, 4 of 4 from 3-point range). The Celtics had 28 points with 3:50 left in the opening period.
Jeff Green scored 14 points in the first quarter for the Celtics, who led by as many as 12 points.
2. And the second quarter wasn’t much better. The Celtics scored the first 11 points of the period to take a 23-point lead, 53-30. The Hawks did not score for the first 5:21 of the quarter, missing their first eight shots with three turnovers.
Avery Bradley scored nine points in the second quarter for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo had just two points in the first half but 14 assists as the Celtics led 66-50 at the intermission. Jared Sullinger added insult to injury by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the half. The Celtics finished the first half shooting 61.4 percent (27 of 44, 7 of 11 from 3-point range.)
“That was the message in a lot of timeouts and at halftime was to play possession by possession by possession,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “That’s what will give us our best chance to get back in this game. You don’t want to do it all at once. You can’t do it all at once.”
3. The Hawks came roaring back. The Celtics scored the first six points of the third quarter, on two 3-pointers. The Hawks outscored the Celtics with a 38-14 run between the third and fourth quarters. The Celtics’ huge advantage was completely erased when Kent Bazemore drained a corner 3-pointer for an 85-85 lead. Dennis Schroder then had a three-point play for a Hawks lead.
“I work a lot with (assistant coach) Ben Sullivan and some of the other coaches here,” Bazemore said. “I reconstructed by jump shot this summer. That was a very good sign for Ben and I. I made the 3 and looked over at him and just smiled. So, it’s a big step for me.”
4. Budenholzer played the hot hand down the stretch – and that belonged to Schroder over Jeff Teague. Schroder subbed for Teague with 3:27 left in the third quarter and the Hawks trailing 79-72. The second-year point guard would not sit the rest of the way and was a huge part of the comeback. Schroder finished with a career-high 15 points and had the game-saving rebound as the Celtics had a last-second chance to pull ahead or tie the game.
“I was just a little bit of a feel,” Budenholzer said. “Dennis was playing well. I just stuck with him. We’ve done it with different guys at different times this year. I think Jeff has been unbelievable and he’ll continue to be unbelievable. It’s just kind of a guy feel. Dennis’ defense and getting in the paint, just different things, I went with him.”
5. Budenolzer made another bold adjustment at halftime. With Bradley giving the Hawks problems, he put Teague (and later Schroder) on him. That meant that Kyle Korver had to guard Rajon Rondo. It worked as was a major part of the comeback.
“Avery Bradley is super quick and he was knocking them down,” Korver said. “He was playing really well. Rondo is so good at seeing the whole court. I just tried to, I don’t know if they were trying to get me off Avery Bradley or get more length on Rondo. I don’t know what it was but it worked. Jeff did a great job of chasing him and he didn’t have the half he had in the first half and that was a big part of the comeback. I just tried to use by length on him.”
Rondo finished with a strange line of two points, 19 assists, 12 rebounds, seven turnovers, one steal and one block in 34 minutes.