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Boston - The Celtics came into the TD Garden owning one of only eight Atlanta losses so far. Of course it was a slightly different team in green pre-Rondo trade, the first time these two met. This time around the Hawks were winners of nine straight, and at the top of the Eastern Conference, while the C's had just traded away their leading scorer two-nights ago. History was made on Wednesday night, as Boston became the tenth straight victim of the red hot Hawks, a feat that had not been achieved in 17-years after a 105-91 victory over the home team.
Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll led all scorers with 22-points apiece for Atlanta, who have a double-digit win streak for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Paul Millsap also added 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who have only lost two-games since Thanksgiving, were also playing without starters Kyle Korver and Al Hortford. They are now 31-8 on the year.
The Celtics, who had come off an impressive win over New Orleans on Monday night, could not match the intensity of the league's best team at the moment. Avery Bradley finished his night with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Jared Sullinger chipped in with 14 points and nine rebounds. Kelly Olynyk contributed with 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench in the loss.
"I thought our offense was pretty poor all night and I think they're obviously a difficult enough offense to guard," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "But when you give them run-out dunks it doesn't help anything and we just turned the ball over too much."
It was 24-24 after the first 12 minutes before Atlanta took a 10-point lead early in the second. Five turnovers for Boston led to easy buckets, and by end of the quarter the Hawks had shot 12-for-19 from the field and were up 57-45 at halftime.
More turnovers in the third forced the Celtics to play catch-up the rest of the way as Atlanta continued to dictate the tempo. By the fourth Boston had gotten as close as they were going to get when they cut the Hawks' lead 89-80 after scoring six straight points to open the final frame. The C's were only able to put up 11 more points to end the game.
The Celtics went back to their old habits of playing catch-up and not taking care of the ball (17 turnovers). Despite the change in rotation what seems to be on a daily basis, Brad Stevens has to do a better job of motivating these young guys. Especially when the visiting team elects to purposely beat you without two of their main starters, because their coach believes they have enough depth regardless.
Boston will host another east title contender when Chicago rolls into the Garden on Friday night. Tip-off is at 7:30.
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