BOSTON — The Boston Celtics scored their best win of the young season by downing the Atlanta Hawks 106-93 on Friday night.
Forward Kelly Olynyk hit two 3-pointers during a 21-9 run over the final 5:10 of the third quarter and guard Isaiah Thomas drained back-to-back 3-pointers to stave off an Atlanta charge as the Celtics evened their record at 4-4.READ MORE: Man Indicted In 1-Year-Old's 2019 Drowning At New Hampshire Motel
The Hawks (8-3) were playing without their coach — Mike Budenholzer leaving the team in Boston Friday morning because of a family emergency. Assistant coach Kenny Atkinson took over and while the players were clearly trying to win for their coach, there was clearly something missing from one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.
The Celtics built a 15-point lead two minutes into the fourth quarter before the Hawks led by backup guard Dennis Schroder and little-used center Mike Muscala, ran off 12 straight points to get to within three. They got no closer — but did cut a seven-point lead down to three with 3:03 remaining.
Boston then reeled off 10 points in 1:33, the last five by forward Jae Crowder, to ice the game. The Hawks were shut out for the final 3:03.
Thomas led the Celtics, who hammered the Hawks on the offensive glass and only committed 11 turnovers, with a game-high 23 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
Forward Amir Johnson, playing his best game as a Celtic, had 19 points, eight boards and four assists, while Olynyk came off the bench with 15 points and Crowder added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Forward Jared Sullinger had 10 points and 10 rebounds.READ MORE: Colin Powell, First Black Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 Of Complications From COVID-19
The Celtics out-rebounded the visitors 50-35, claiming a 17-5 advantage on the offensive glass, allowing then to win despite shooting 41 percent from the floor.
Atlanta’s big three — forward Paul Millsap, center Al Horford and guard Jeff Teague, who came into the game averaging a combined 51.8 points,19.9 rebounds and 14.2 assists, just weren’t factors. They finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.
Millsap led the Hawks with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Horford posted 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Teague’s second-half time was limited after he suffered what looked like an ankle injury near the end of the first half.
Muscala, who had 10 points in four appearances before Friday, scored seven points and had an assist during the rally. Schroder scored the other five points.
The game was tied at the half. Eight points by guard Kyle Korver in a 1:33 span helped the Hawks take a 60-59 lead with 5:23 left in the third quarter.
The Celtics then took over while the Hawks continued a sloppy evening that ended with 17 turnovers.MORE NEWS: 'Lawrence Deserves Better': Teachers Rally Before Class To Protest Spike In Violence At High School
NOTES: Atlanta assistant coach Kenny Atkinson said his goal Friday was to keep the players on schedule with head coach Mike Budenholzer away from the team for a family emergency. “I just wanted to keep us on a routine, our normal routine, from shoot-around to what we do pregame — just keep our guys on a normal routine,” Atkinson said before the game, adding there was no update on Budenholzer. “But this group’s been together for a while now. It’s a pretty close-knit group, they’re obviously close with Bud, so it will be interesting to see how they react tonight with all the emotions and everything that’s gone on.” … F Al Horford on Budenholzer: “We hope he’s OK and we are feeling for coach but we understand. … If it was one of the players who was going through something, he would understand too. It shows that in life there is more than basketball.” … Celtics G Avery Bradley missed his second straight game with a calf bruise. … A moment of silence was held before the game because of the terror attacks in Paris.