The way the things are going for the Hawks even a healthy-body advantage is no help.
The Celtics, with nine healthy players, proved too much for the Hawks, with one more available player, and won the battle of attrition. An 11-3 fourth-quarter run led to a 115-104 victory over the Hawks Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The Hawks are reeling as they lost for the 10th time in the past 11 games and now face a five-game western road trip. Four of the opponents are in playoff position in the Western Conference.
The Hawks were without big men Paul Millsap, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon, all back in Atlanta on the mend, as part of a decimated corps that also includes Al Horford.
It appeared the Hawks would catch a break as the Celtics were without centers Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.
It did not turn out that way at all.
“All the positions and not having enough guys, that doesn’t mean anything because we had chances to win,” DeMarre Carroll said. “We didn’t win. We really shot ourselves in the foot.”
Consider that the Celtics had:
* A 90-76 advantage in field goal attempts.
* A 46-29 rebounding edge, including 14-6 on the offensive glass.
* An 18-8 lead in second-chance points.
Elton Brand logged 34 minutes at center for the Hawks. Coach Mike Budenholzer at one point had small forwards Carroll and Cartier Martin at the center and power forward positions playing with three point guards.
“Just trying to find a group and also maintain some energy,” Budenholzer said. “We can’t run ourselves into the ground. You are always trying to find a group that might catch a spark. Going unconventional, that was the hope. DeMarre was really good for us tonight. I though Cartier helped us in the few minutes he played. We tried to catch a spark with that combination.”
The Celtics went on the decisive 11-3 run in the fourth quarter and took a 103-96 lead 4:04 remaining. Jeff Green hit an uncontested 3-pointer to cap the run. The Hawks could not rally and fell behind by as many as 12 points.
The Hawks (26-31, 9-20 road) could not hold a 15-point first quarter lead. They were led by Jeff Teague with 26 points. Carroll tied a season-high with 24 points, including 17 in the first half. Kyle Korver (17 points), Lou Williams (13) and Brand (10) were the other double-digit scorers. Korver extended his NBA-record streak to 126 games with a 3-pointer as he opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for the second straight game.
“Definitely defending,” Teague said of the most difficult part of a lack of big men. “The offensive rebounds. They were getting to the glass. They are a really athletic team and they just pounded the glass on us tonight. When we did block out, we were holding and grabbing and trying to do whatever we could do. And they were being aggressive and got some foul calls on us.”
The Celtics (20-39, 12-17 home) snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Hawks had no answer for Jerryd Bayless who had a game-high and season-high 29 points. Bayless, with five 3-pointers, led six Celtics in double-figures. Rajon Rondo had a double-double of 22 points and 11 assists.
The Celtics took an 81-79 lead into the final period after a back-and-forth third quarter. Teague kept the Hawks in the game by scoring 10 straight points in the period. Boston also had a 58-56 lead at halftime after they erased a 15-point first-quarter deficit. The Hawks took the double-digit lead, 21-6, as they opened the game making their first six shots and were 9 of 12.
The Celtics went on a 25-6 run between the first and second quarters to erase the deficit and lead by as many as six points.
“To be honest, I don’t think offense was our problem,” Budenholzer said. “We had (104) points. It was defensively where we miss Paul (Millsap) and some of our big guys. And on the boards is where we miss him. … It’s just defensively, collectively, we’ve got to find a way to get it done.”
The Hawks next play at the Suns Sunday.
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