So much for the Hawks getting a win in Boston.
Despite missing Kevin Garnett, a thorn in the side of the Hawks, the Celtics rolled to a 118-107 victory Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics didn’t need Garnett. They had Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Shavlik Randolph.
Green finished with a game-high 27 points in the win, the second straight for the Celtics after a five-game losing streak. Terry added 24 points, including five 3-pointers, and Randolph had 13 rebounds. Paul Pierce finished with a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Hawks (40-33) have alternated wins and losses for the past seven games. They now lead the Celtics (38-34) by just 1-1/2 games for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
“This was a game, going in, where one thing we needed to do was defend off the dribble,” coach Larry Drew said. “We did not do a good job with that. They pose a problem for us because they have guys are really good one-on-one players, particularly Paul Pierce and Jeff Green. They are just good at what they do. We tried a couple of things to try to take them out of their rhythm. It had no effect.”
Josh Smith had 18 points for the Hawks on 7 of 23 shooting, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range. Jeff Teague had 17 points.
The Hawks, who played without Al Horford, rallied from a 15-point deficit in large part due to their bench play. They got as close as six points in the fourth quarter. Rookie Mike Scott finished with a career-high 19 points. Anthony Tolliver had 14 points and Shelvin Mack chipped in with tied a career-best with 12 points and set his best with nine assists.
“I finished,” Scott said. My teammates got me the ball and I just finished. Finally. I missed some dunks. I have to work on that. I still have to work on my defense.”
The Hawks pulled to within 100-94, with 6:59 remaining. The Celtics answered - as they did all game. They scored the next seven points, including a 3-pointer from Terry after a scramble for a loose ball that the Hawks could not gather.
“That was kind of how the game went,” Drew said. “… That particular play that ball could have bounced any particular way.
The Celtics opened the 15-point lead in the third quarter after the Hawks got as close as six points. Each time the Hawks made a run, the Celtics roared back. The Garden crowd got even louder.
The Celtics took a 66-56 halftime lead with a torrid-shooting second quarter. They outscored the Hawks 34-26 in the period on 57.1 percent shooting (12 of 21), including six 3-pointers. Terry had four of the long-range baskets.
The Hawks took a 40-34 lead early in the second quarter. However, the Celtics answered with a 14-2 run to grab a six-point advantage of their own. The lead would grow to as many as 11 points in the period.
The Celtics finished the first half shooting 56.8 percent, including 8 of 12 from 3-point range. Boston finished the game shooting 54.2 percent.
“When they start Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, that’s pretty tough,” Teague said of the matchup problems. “(Smith) usually guards Paul Pierce when we play. Him having to guard Jeff Green made it a little tough on us. We are all basketball players. They made plays. We made plays. Paul Pierce is going to score on anybody. He’s been doing it a long time. Jason Terry and those guys making shots, it’s tough.”
Rookie John Jenkins left in the second quarter with a mild concussion and did not return. He was hurt after running into a pick set by Pierce. Jenkins was said to be experiencing a headache following the game. The rookie is sure to miss some time as he must be cleared to return following the NBA’s new concussion protocol.
Devin Harris, who has a sore left foot, was available but did not play in his third straight game. Drew said he elected to save Harris for Saturday’s home game against the Magic.
The Celtics won the season series, 3-1, with two of the games between the teams being decided in overtime. That was not the case Friday.
Drew said the Hawks’ issues were again compounded by poor shots.
“If you are not taking good shots, it’s as good as a turnover,” Drew said. “That is not anything we’ve haven’t talked about every road game we’ve played. We talk about our shot selection. We talk about not turning the ball over. We talk about limiting them to one shot and coming up with the rebound. When you take bad shots it’s as good as a turnover and tonight we took quite a few.”
The Hawks concluded a four-game road trip, their final multi-city trek of the season, with a 2-2 record.