The game of basketball can ebb and flow like no other sport can and the Hawks 110-107 loss to the visiting Boston Celtics is a perfect example of how cruel the game can be for a struggling team.
Atlanta was behind 107-105 following two free throws from Marco Belinelli, who came off the bench on Monday night to score 19 points, before Kyrie Irving did what superstar players do with the time running out and his team in need of a bucket: he scored.
Irving’s runner with 20 seconds remaining was his 34th and 35th points of the game and ultimately enough for the Celtics to come away with a sixth road win and ninth overall.
Tied at 54 at halftime, the Celtics lead by Irving and former Hawks All-Star forward Al Horford, would fall behind 71-64 following a three-pointer by Hawks guard Marco Belinelli. The next five minutes of play belonged to the visitors as Boston proceeded to go on an 18-4 run to close the quarter and lead 82-75.
The Hawks had beaten Cleveland on the road a night before and the offensive confidence was clearly visible on this night as a number of players started the game with a renewed interest in scoring the ball.
Namely one, Dewayne Dedmon who had been rebounding at a solid clip of late but the offensive performance he put on during the first half was something different entirely. Dedmon made a three-pointer, mid-range jump shot, dunked a Bazemore pass and had a number of putback baskets.
In all, he scored 13 first-half points to go with his six rebounds and two blocks. It would be Dedmon’s free-throw shooting and rebounding that would help Atlanta regain the lead (and lose the lead, and regain the lead again after losing the lead and…).
The third quarter belonged to Boston as they outscored the Hawks 28-21, going on an 18-4 run to close the period. Celtics rookie forward Jason Tatum scored 10 of those points, making both of his three-point attempts and three of his four shots.
Irving was no slouch either as he would have a phenomenal fourth quarter to go with the seven points and four assists he pulled off during the third quarter.
Atlanta outscored Boston in the fourth quarter 32-28 — both Belinelli and Malcolm Delaney each scored nine points — but the last 12 minutes belonged to Irving who was 5-7 for 12 points, none bigger than his running one-hander with the game on the line.
Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder continued his string of 20 point games on Monday night scoring 23 points to go along with six assists (and only two turnovers).
Schroder’s fourth quarter, however, would do little to reflect how well he has been playing this season as his numbers paled in comparison to Irving’s during the same period of time. Schroder only took five fourth-quarter shots, making one for two points.
Despite making 13-26 three-pointers, 16-20 free throws and amassing eight steals to the Celtics three, the Hawks lost their ninth game of the season. In the end, it all came down to which team’s key players -Horford missed a triple-double by an assist; 15 points, 10 rebounds- came through in the clutch. Boston’s did, Atlanta’s will get another shot at doing so in Detroit on Saturday.
• Marietta native Jaylen Brown returned home to Georgia and scored 11 points on 4-10 shooting. Brown was 1-5 from three.
• Hawks forward Luke Babbitt started at power forward for a consecutive night and once again opened the scoring for the Hawks with a three-pointer.
• Delaney made all three of his three-point attempts during the fourth quarter. The reserve guard was 1-4 from the field up to that point.
• Atlanta has now been out-rebounded in 10 consecutive games.