NBA Playoffs…Hawks overcome slow start to torch Celtics

(The Sports Xchange) – The Atlanta Hawks overcame a sluggish start with a sizzling run that put away the Boston Celtics 110-83 in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at Philips Arena.

Atlanta forward Mike Scott came off the bench to score 17 points, leading five Hawks in double figures. Kent Bazemore, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap all made big shots for the Hawks, who pestered the Celtics into 19 turnovers.

Atlanta lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 with Game 6 to come on Thursday in Boston.

Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, who was booed relentlessly every time he touched the ball, suffered through his worst game of the series and tweaked an ankle in the fourth.

Thomas finished with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor before limping off the court and back to the locker room with 10 minutes to play and the outcome long decided.

Throughout the back-and-forth series, the Hawks have grabbed big leads after slow starts by the Celtics. But Boston have had a knack at coming from behind, much like they did in the second half of a Game 4 win on Sunday in Boston.

Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague

However, there was no coming back from the barrage the Hawks dropped on the Celtics in the second and third quarters — and especially not with Thomas struggling.

Midway through the second quarter, Atlanta was ice cold and had made only 6 of 34 shots from the field. But the Celtics, in part because of turnover issues and Thomas’ early scoring woes, did not take full advantage. Their biggest lead was 29-19 before the Hawks started to heat up.

Bazemore hit three nothing-but-net 3-pointers, fueling a 28-10 Atlanta run to close the half.

The Hawks led 47-39 at intermission, despite an 0-of-8 shooting performance by forward Al Horford.

Thomas did not score in the first half for the Celtics, who turned the ball over nine times in the first half and 20 times for the game.

Boston cut into Atlanta’s lead early in the third quarter before things got out of hand. Korver, Scott, Millsap and Dennis Schroder hit triples during a 2 1/2-minute stretch that electrified Philips Arena and put the Hawks in complete control with a 22-point advantage.

The Celtics had no answer and now must find a way to regroup heading back to Boston. Evan Turner had 15 points and Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart each added 10 points.

Scott hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers. Bazemore and Teague each finished with 15 points in a balanced effort that saw the Hawks rack up 30 assists on 42 field goals.


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