The Hawks (14-39) held their own against the Celtics (36-15) and had a chance to tie the game late, but couldn’t quite get it done in a 112-107 loss Friday.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. After losing ground rapidly in the third quarter, held to 28.6% shooting from the field (6-for-21) and 20% from 3-point range (2-for-10), the Hawks somehow fought their way back into it in the fourth quarter (overall, they were outscored 33-18 in the third, and trailed by 14 going into the fourth). Two-way backup point guard Brandon Goodwin scored 12 of his 21 points off the bench in the fourth, and he scored five straight to pull the Hawks within three, 108-105, with a minute to play. A dunk by John Collins kept it a three-point game, and with 18.3 seconds left after a timeout, the Hawks had a chance to tie it. Kevin Huerter missed a 3-pointer but the Hawks kept possession, then Goodwin missed another 3 to effectively end the chance of a comeback. Both De’Andre Hunter and Celtics guard Kemba Walker gave Goodwin a pat on the back after the miss, and Collins mentioned postgame that Goodwin has been using his playing time wisely: “I’ve been very impressed. Over this year, I would say he’s been very clutch, or very timely with what he does, when he comes in, minutes and impact. I feel like that’s really big for him, when he does come in, he makes an immediate impact and immediate spark.”
2. Out with a right ankle contusion, Trae Young wasn’t available to play, so the Hawks were missing their best playmaker and offensive weapon. Young was hit in the ankle in the fourth quarter of the Hawks’ win in Minnesota Wednesday, and though he felt well enough to go through shootaround Friday morning, he wasn’t able to play. Keeping with their recent pattern, the Hawks were short-handed overall, with Cam Reddish (concussion), Bruno Fernando (left calf strain) and DeAndre’ Bembry (right hand neuritis) also out, and the newly acquired Clint Capela, Dewayne Dedmon and Skal Labissiere not available yet. All in all, the Hawks had nine players available, including their two two-way players (Goodwin and Charlie Brown Jr.). In Young’s absence, Huerter stepped up as a playmaker, leading the Hawks with six assists, and Goodwin, Jeff Teague and Vince Carter each had four assists. “Obviously, you always want to be at full strength, especially when you have an All-Star caliber guy, Trae. ... It’s a tough thing, but I always go back to being competitors, being professionals, it’s part of our job,” Collins said.
3. With a depleted arsenal, Huerter and Collins worked together to carry the load on offense, combining for 33 of the Hawks’ 55 points in the first half and 55 of their 107 total points. Huerter finished with 25 points (8-22 FG, 3-10 from 3, 6-6 FT) and seven rebounds, with Collins registering his sixth consecutive double-double with 30 points (10-19 FG, 1-4 from 3, 9-10 FT) and 10 rebounds. Huerter has played more aggressively over the past few games, and that continued in Friday’s loss, tying his season-high in free-throw attempts (he averages 1.3 free-throw attempts per game).
4. Given Young’s absence and how thin they were overall, the Hawks getting down 21-7 to start the first quarter wasn’t all that surprising. But they battled back to trail by just two entering the second quarter, and they took advantage of the Celtics only making one field goal the first five minutes of the second to take a 55-54 lead at halftime (the Celtics shot 41.3% from the field in an inconsistent first half, compared to the Hawks’ 43.9%). Helping the Hawks to battle back, Carter had 10 points and a season-high nine rebounds, and Treveon Graham had 10 points and five rebounds. “Going into the fourth quarter down 14 and to get back into it like we did was impressive, (with us) being as short-handed as we were, was impressive,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I commend our guys for just competing for 48 minutes, really. The first three possessions were miscues.”
5. The Hawks couldn’t do much to stop Celtics wing Jayson Tatum, who continued his torrid pace on offense with a game-high 32 points. Tatum went 7-for-12 from 3-point range and added six assists and four rebounds. He’s averaging 28.7 points over four games in January.
By the Numbers
34-25 (what the Hawks outscored the Celtics by in the fourth quarter to nearly come back and tie the game)
“At this point, it’s not surprising. That’s what he can do. ... He’s a microwave for us. He can get going and he did today and he was huge for us.” (Kevin Huerter on Brandon Goodwin’s performance)
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