Sunday, March 12, 2023

Celtics 134, Hawks 125: Jayson Tatum drops 34 to hold off Atlanta's late comeback

The Celtics got off to a great start on their road trip with a 134-125 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena Saturday night.

Jayson Tatum went 12-of-25 from the field and 5-of-14 from deep to finish with 34 points, to go along with 15 rebounds and six assists. Jaylen Brown had 24 points, seven assists, while Derrick White added 18 points and seven assists as a starter.
"We are playing at the level we are supposed to be playing," Tatum said in his postgame presser after dropping 11 points in the fourth quarter. "We responded when we needed to."
Malcolm Brogdon also recorded 18 points, five assists and Sam Hauser chipped in 12 points as both led the bench to help the C's improve to 47-21 on the season and are now 1.5 games behind the East leading Milwaukee Bucks (48-19).

Trae Young led all scorers with 35 points on 12-of-27 shooting and 13 assists for Atlanta. Saddiq Bey had 17 points off the bench and De'Andre Hunter netted 16 points. Dejounte Murray struggled on 7-of-18 from the floor to register 14 points for the eighth place Hawks (34-34).

The Celtics were ahead 71-61 at the break after being up by as many as 16 in the second quarter. A Tatum dunk capped off a 16-9 run to start the third period, before taking a 101-89 advantage into the final frame.

A 14-7 spurt by the Hawks to open the fourth cut their deficit to five (108-103) with 8:06 remaining. Atlanta got within five a couple of times during the next five minutes, but that's the closest they'd get the rest of the way as the C's kept pushing the lead to 10.
"I feel like in the last couple of games we've been very conscious of taking advantage of our possessions," Horford said in his postgame comments. "We had some adversity there, but as a group we have to keep moving and we did that."
With 1:25 left to play and Boston leading 129-121, Young and Marcus Smart (11 points, six assists) got entangled and both fell to the floor underneath the Celtics' hoop. Smart initially was called for a foul before a review by the officials -- gave each player a technical foul, followed by an ejection to Smart.
"I just saw them both kind of go down, definitely chirping at each other going down," Horford said of the scuffle. "We were all in there trying to do damage control."
Young drained two free throws to get the Hawks within six, but Boston was able to withstand one last rally and grab the win in the team's first of a six-game road trip. The Celtics will travel to Houston next and face the Rockets (15-52) Monday night.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 54.7% from the field, including 20-of-42 (47.6%) from 3-point range, while the Hawks were 50% from the floor and 10-of-34 (29.4%) from behind the arc. Atlanta out-rebounded the C's 48-40 and outscored them in the paint 70-62. The Celtics dished out 35 assists (nine turnovers) on 52 baskets and the home team handed out 24 dimes (10 turnovers) on 50 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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