Hawks waste 17-point lead in road loss to Celtics

Atlanta coach Nate McMillan signals to his players during the second half Tuesday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta coach Nate McMillan signals to his players during the second half Tuesday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: AP

BOSTON — With a disastrous second half, the Hawks (29-32) squandered a 17-point lead in a 107-98 loss to the Celtics (37-27) on Tuesday at TD Garden.

Next up, the Hawks will host the Bulls on Thursday.

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Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. In the third quarter, this game started to feel eerily similar to the Hawks’ 105-95 loss to the Celtics on Feb. 13, when the Hawks gave up a 42-point third quarter to erase a 10-point lead at halftime. The Hawks led by as much as 17 in the first half and 65-51 at halftime, but the Celtics used a 14-0 run to tie it up at 65, and ultimately won the third quarter by a margin of 31-13. The Hawks entered the fourth quarter down four.

2. Boston ultimately held Atlanta to 33 points in the second half. Hawks coach Nate McMillan saw his team settle instead of attacking the rim and getting downhill, with Atlanta going 14-for-16 from the line in the first half, successfully drawing contact, and just 5-for-8 in the second half. It became an off night all-around for the Hawks: De’Andre Hunter (four points, 0-for-8 field goals) couldn’t make a shot, Kevin Huerter had nine points and two blocks but ended up fouling out in the fourth quarter, and Clint Capela had 11 rebounds but couldn’t get going offensively, finishing with five points.

“It really felt like the last game,” McMillan said. “(The Celtics) came out aggressive looking to attack, and I thought we got back on our heels and we settled for the long ball. We didn’t attack.”

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Hawks guard Trae Young tries to get past Celtics forward Grant Williams during the second half Tuesday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: AP

Hawks guard Trae Young tries to get past Celtics forward Grant Williams during the second half Tuesday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks guard Trae Young tries to get past Celtics forward Grant Williams during the second half Tuesday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. Referees awarded the Celtics’ Marcus Smart a flagrant-1 foul in the first quarter for a play that caused Trae Young to get up limping and require a visit to the locker room to get checked out (Young stayed in the game to make 2-of-3 free throws before departing). Fortunately for Atlanta, Young was available to return despite suffering a left ankle sprain. He came back out midway through the second quarter and finished with a team-high 31 points and six assists, although he mentioned after the game that he was experiencing some pain and the ankle stiffened up on him coming out for the second half. The Hawks kept things going in his absence and had taken a 49-33 lead, getting a boost from Bogdan Bogdanovic (25 points, four rebounds, three assists, plus-6), before the second-half collapse.

“It’s still sore, but I feel pretty confident in my ability to play through pain and stuff like that, so I plan on playing through it,” Young said of his ankle. “As long as I keep it loose here in the next couple days, or whatever, hopefully I can keep it going.”

4. Backup center Onyeka Okongwu couldn’t play the second half, needing a concussion evaluation after taking contact to the face from Derrick White (18 points, five assists) and showing symptoms, per McMillan. The Hawks were short-handed even before that, with John Collins missing his sixth game in a row with a right foot strain (Danilo Gallinari started in Collins’ place and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, with the Hawks giving Gorgui Dieng playing time in the fourth quarter). Pregame, McMillan said Collins is day-to-day and didn’t have an estimation of when he’d be able to get back playing.

They were also missing backup guard Lou Williams (left hip discomfort). For most of the game, Boston was without one of its stars, with Jaylen Brown ruled out early in the first quarter with a right ankle sprain. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in scoring with 33 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists, with Grant Williams adding 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

5. The Hawks entered the night having risen to No. 9 in the Eastern Conference standings but fell back to No. 10 with this loss. They have 21 regular-season games remaining and haven’t been at .500 since Dec. 15.

Celtics 107, Hawks 98

Stat of the game: 15 (the Hawks had a season-low 15 assists)

Star of the game: Tatum (led the Celtics in scoring with 33 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists)

Quotable: “Not right now, obviously. When you are up 15 and they lose one of the top two guys on the team, and if you’re not able to win that game, you’re not a good team.” (Bogdanovic on if the Hawks are a good team)