Thursday, February 8, 2024

Celtics 125, Hawks 117: Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White lead balanced scoring to hold off Atlanta

The Celtics (39-12) defeated the Hawks (22-29) 125-117 at TD Garden on Wednesday night for their second straight win.

Kristaps Porzingis finished with 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting to lead six Celtics players reaching double figures in scoring. Derrick White netted 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including sinking four of his five triples in the final frame.

Jayson Tatum recorded 20 points (8-of-21), nine rebounds, and seven assists, while Jaylen Brown added 15 points (7-of-11) and six assists.

Al Horford was also key in Boston improving to 24-3 at home, providing 14 points in the first half with eight rebounds and eight assists. Horford, who started in place of Jrue Holiday (elbow sprain), gave the Celtics a steady defensive presence throughout the game, altering numerous shots at the rim -- blocking four of them and snagging two steals.
"This is the ultimate compliment: you know what you are getting," C's head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Horford's reliability. "You know what you are getting every day in practice, every day in the locker room, every day on the court. I thought his play tonight kind of inspired us. He just chipped away at winning play after winning play."
It was only the third time in franchise history and the first since 1973 that four Celtics players registered at least six rebounds and six assists respectively when it came to White, Tatum, Brown, and of course Horford.
"Al does it all, and he's the piece that holds all of us together," Tatum said during his postgame comments in high praise of the sage veteran. "We wouldn't be at this point without him."
Boston was initially cold from beyond the arc, starting out 7-of-25 from long distance before leveling out to 17-of-49 by the end of the night. Despite the Celtics' slow start from long range, Atlanta could never build themselves a big lead (five was their largest margin) due to their poor defense. Atlanta allowed 58 points in the paint and 36 -- a season-high for points in the paint in a half -- came in the first 24 minutes for Boston.

Trae Young had 15 first-half points but was held in check in the final two quarters, finishing with 20 points on an inefficient 8-of-25 from the field. Celtics killer Saddiq Bey led all Hawks scorers with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep and nine rebounds. 

Jalen Johnson (15 rebounds) and Onyeka Okongwu (10 rebounds) each contributed 19 points apiece for the Hawks, who are 4-6 in their last 10 outings

In a back-and-forth affair throughout the game, neither team established a double-digit advantage until the Celtics gave themselves a 13-point cushion with 6:42 left to play. It was Boston's largest lead, thanks in part to a 16-5 run spearheaded by the aforementioned Derrick White. 

The Hawks responded with a 15-7 spurt of their own to trail 120-115 with 1:17 remaining before Porzingis hit his second 3-pointer of the night to stop Atlanta's last attempt at a late rally.

The Celtics after reportedly acquiring Xavier Tillman from the Memphis Grizzlies hours before tip-off, will look to wrap up their seven-game homestand (4-2) when they take on the lowly Washington Wizards (9-41) at TD Garden Friday night.

Game Notes:

Boston connected on 52.7% from the field, while the Hawks were 42.2% and 13-of-41 (31.7%) from 3-point range. The Celtics barely won the points in the paint battle 58-56 and were out-rebounded 49-45. The C's dished out 33 assists (14 turnovers) on 49 baskets to Atlanta's 24 dimes (nine turnovers) on 43 made shots.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

1 comment:

  1. Great recap. Looks like the Knicks, given their recent trades, may give the Celtics a run for their money this year.