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Why can’t the Celtics just beat the Hawks??? The Boston Celtics (26-10) have 10 losses on the entire season and three of them are to the Hawks (24-13). Boston lost again to Atlanta 102-96 Monday night, just three nights after losing to the same team on the road 83-95.
In a game that was in Boston’s hands throughout much of the night, the Celtics had a 14-point lead in the second quarter and then a 10-point lead in third, they ended up blowing both of their leads and the game. It’s not Coach Doc Rivers’ fault entirely, but he did play a major role in the outcome of the game.
Glen Davis was called for a technical foul in the third quarter on Marvin Williams with the Celtics up 67-57 and Rivers just lost it. The Celtics were playing without key reserve Rasheed Wallace, who has been starting for injured Kevin Garnett, but Rivers sure did his best impression of Wallace in his absence. He was charged with a technical foul and was immediately ejected from the game. Assistant coach Armond Hill also received a technical.
“That’s always on me. I don’t think I should ever get thrown out,” said Rivers. “I just hate getting techs. I’ve really worked this year at reeling myself in, because I thought we had to with the guys we have.”
Now sometimes when a coach is ejected from a game, it inserts life into the team, but this was not the case for Boston. The Hawks’ Jamal Crawford went to the line and made 3-of-4 free throws for the technical fouls issued. Then, Williams went to the line and made 1-of-2 for a four-point turnaround. From then on out, it was all Hawks.
After Crawford made a 3-pointer to tie the game up at 75-all in the third, the Celtics increased their lead to 84-77 to start off the fourth. That lead would not stay as former Celtic Joe Johnson took over for Atlanta. Johnson had a game-high 36 points and erased a seven-point deficit by himself in the fourth quarter.
Crawford didn’t help the Celtics either. He hit 2-of-3 free throw shots after being fouled while shooting a 3-pointer, and then drove to the basket for two more before adding the final two with a long jump shot to secure the win.
“I think it started with the technicals,” said Crawford. “We got some free throws and easy points. Seeing the ball go through the basket gives you confidence.”
Seeing the ball go through the basket sure helped Crawford and the Hawks beat the Celtics for the third time this season. Atlanta had lost seven in a row to Boston coming into this season.
The Celtics were led by Rajon Rondo with a team-high 26 points (12-for-20 shooting), along with seven assists and three rebounds. One shocking stat that leaps off the stat sheet was the number of 3-point shots Rondo took. He took five shots from beyond the arc, making only one of them. Like I said before, the Celtics were without Wallace in the lineup but it was hard to mistake him for Rondo on Monday night. I know Rondo is getting more comfortable shooting the from deep, but this was not the game to be just throwing shots up. This was an important game and he needed to go to the basket, not practice shooting 3-point shots.
Also contributing were Paul Pierce with 19 points, Ray Allen with 16 points, and Davis off the bench with 13 points. Kendrick Perkins led all Celtic players in rebounding with nine, followed by Pierce with eight.
Brian Scalabrine got the start in place of Wallace, who was out with a sore foot. Scalabrine was impressive in his 21 minutes of fame. He went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and finished with five rebounds, but also committed four personal fouls.
While Johnson led the Hawks in scoring, their team had many contributions across the board. Crawford was second in scoring with 17 points off the bench while Josh Smith and Williams each chipped in 14 points apiece. Al Horford led the team in rebounding with 12 boards, followed by Williams with eight.
Mike Bibby was very quiet in the game, as he only logged 18 minutes while scoring five points (2-for-3 shooting) and adding two assists.
One of the main problems the Celtics had was turning the ball over, and taking the ball away. The Hawks forced the C’s into 16 turnovers, while only having seven of their own. If you turn the ball over more than the other team, it’s more likely that your team will lose no matter what. Towards the end of the game the Celtics got sloppy and their turnovers made them pay for the loss. Perkins led all players with six turnovers.
The Celtics will next travel to New Jersey to take on the struggling Nets (3-34) in what should be a lock for a win.