Final, Celtics win 115-104: Jerryd Bayless had an open shot on the final possession, and you could tell he really wanted to pull it. A basket would have cracked the 30-point barrier for him.
Instead, Bayless and the Boston Celtics showed some class and let the shot clock run out. A few seconds later, the buzzer sounded for good as the Celtics (20-39) snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Atlanta Hawks (26-31) started strong but faded quickly. They were ahead by 15 points in the first quarter but never found an answer for Bayless, who had 29 points, from the second quarter on. The Hawks shot 50 percent from the field but turned the ball over 18 times.
Rajon Rondo recorded 22 points and 11 assists, while Jeff Green chipped in 17 points and eight boards and Brandon Bass supplied 14 points and eight rebounds. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 26 points in the losing effort.
Fourth quarter, :41.9, Celtics 113-102: The only question now is whether Bayless can get to 30 points. He dropped an elbow jumper to get him to 29. You’ve got less than a minute to go, JB.
Fourth quarter, 4:02, Celtics 103-94: It’s a little easier to score when the other team just doesn’t cover you.
Green just canned a corner three without a Hawk in the vicinity. He even stood there an extra beat to let a defender come, but none did. This came two possessions after Humphries was so shocked at how open he was near the free throw line, he didn’t even shoot.
It’s been a long couple of weeks for the Hawks, but it’s easy to see now why they could be fading out of the playoff picture.
Fourth quarter, 5:03, Celtics 98-93: The Celtics are having a little bit of fun out there, while the Hawks just look like they want to get home. The edge is only five points, but Bayless leaped when Green grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled. Nothing like that display of emotion has come from Atlanta’s side.
Fourth quarter, 8:55, Celtics 88-85: Bayless is feeling really good — good enough to start calling out a teammate.
It looked like Jeff Green missed a defensive rotation, and as Brand was cruising in for an uncontested dunk, Bayless let Green know it. Bayless had some loud, harsh words for Green, who then missed a layup off the side of the backboard.
It hasn’t been a great game for Green, but it has been for Bayless. He’s now up to 25 points.
End of third quarter, Celtics 81-79: We interrupt this episode of The Jerryd Bayless Show to bring you the end of the third quarter.
Bayless is scorching, shooting 8-for-13 overall and 4-for-6 from deep en route to 20 points. He’s kept keep the Celtics ahead despite big scoring nights by Jeff Teague and Carroll, who also have 20 points each.
Also, Brandon Bass is contributing another quietly solid game. The veteran forward has 12 points and seven rebounds, capitalizing on an undersized Hawks squad with only one true healthy post player in Elton Brand.
Third quarter, 5:09, game tied 70-70: What do you get when you matchup two teams that aren’t all that good? A pretty competitive game, by the looks of it.
Gerald Wallace is playing his rear end off, getting eight points and six rebounds off pure hustle, while Kyle Korver continues his flawless shooting. Korver even put the ball on the floor for an up-and-under, one-handed push shot off the glass.
If you didn’t know Korver had that in his game, join the club. But, hey, in Celtics-Hawks, anything can happen.
Halftime, Celtics 58-56: Much credit goes to the Celtics for regrouping after a poor start, but the Hawks look bad with a capital “B.”
Since running out to a 14-2 advantage, the Hawks have been outscored 56-42. (I can do math!) Kyle Korver is automatic from distance, draining three 3-pointers and scoring 11 points, while DeMarre Carroll has racked up an efficient 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
But the Celtics have stayed ahead thanks to Atlanta’s foul and turnover trouble. The Celtics have gotten 15 free throw attempts, making 13, and have benefited from 10 Hawks turnovers. Individually, the Celtics have posted some rather pedestrian numbers, though Rajon Rondo leads the way with 13 points and five assists.
Second quarter, 2:55, Celtics 52-49: If you told me Kyle Korver shoots 85 percent from three, I’d totally believe you. His actual 47 percent mark seems absurdly low.
Korver has drained all three triples he’s taken and made it look incredibly easy. These aren’t just standstill, spot-up treys, either. He curled to the top of the key, caught a pass and rose up on the move to swish a perfect shot. Butter.
Second quarter, 4:34, game tied 46-46: Excuse Bayless and Caroll while they just take over this game. The other eight players can feel free to just watch.
Carroll isn’t necessarily hot, so much as he’s getting good looks and knocking them down. He converted a spot-up 3-pointer for the left corner to give him 16 points, making him the game’s high scorer.
The Hawks need every bucket Carroll can provide, because they are showing why they’ve lost nine of their last 10 games. They don’t really have anywhere to go for consistent offense. The Celtics know a little bit about what that feels like.
Second quarter, 8:32, Celtics 36-35: Jerryd Bayless started this game, but he didn’t show up until the beginning of the second quarter. Bayless scored six of Boston’s first eight points in the quarter as the Celtics have burst into the lead.
Bayless’ spurt has managed to offset the work of DeMarre Carroll, who has tied Rondo with 11 points as the game’s leading scorer.
End of first quarter, Hawks 27-25: Want this game in a two-possession nutshell?
Gerald Wallace executing a perfect pick-and-roll with Joel Anthony to create a layup for the latter, then Mike Scott letting a kick-out pass go straight through his hands out of bounds. Jeez.
This is a good time to remind you that the Hawks are pretty bad, even if they are a playoff team. They were outscored 15-4 over the last four minutes of the quarter and didn’t have anyone who could contain Rajon Rondo once he put his mind to it. Rondo has a game-high 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting, as well as two steals.
Jeff Green also had a nifty up-and-under dunk, but those are his only points of the night so far.
First quarter, 4:13, Hawks 23-10: Since their slow start, when they fell behind 14-2 out of the gate, the Celtics have actually only been outscored by the Hawks 9-8. So there’s that.
There’s also their point guard, who had to get some attention on a skinned shin after he dove for a loose ball at midcourt. He tapped the ball to Chris Johnson, who was fouled attempting a layup.
First quarter, 9:12, Hawks 11-2: Maybe nobody informed the Celtics or their fans that the game has started. The Hawks sprinted out to a 7-0 lead and only a jumper by Kris Humphries has interrupted Atlanta’s run in the opening minutes.
It’s incredible how quiet TD Garden is. It’s the quietest I’ve ever heard it with people actually in the building. Apparently all the excitement of an 0-4 road trip has translated to some rather unemotional fans.
6:55 p.m.: Rajon Rondo still has to answer to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. But as far as Brad Stevens is concerned, the matter of Rondo choosing to stay in Los Angeles to celebrate his birthday last weekend rather than accompany the team to Sacramento for a game is closed — at least publicly.
“I think the biggest thing right now is for me to move forward and for us to move forward,” Stevens said.
Stevens mostly declined to comment and Rondo’s teammates downplayed his absence when asked prior to tonight’s game. Rondo himself didn’t have anything to say in his defense, staring down reporters who approached his locker and saying, “I’m eating.”
6:02 p.m.: Brad Stevens was asked what his starting lineup would be tonight. His response: “A unique one.”
Jerryd Bayless will make his first start as a Celtic as part of a lineup shuffle necessitated by Kelly Olynyk’s sprained toe. Olynyk injured the toe Saturday in Sacramento, Stevens said, then re-aggravated it Monday in Utah.
Because the Celtics are now thin up front, Gerald Wallace has to move to the bench as a backup forward. Wallace has been starting in a guard/forward role, but now he’ll take a seat for Bayless, a true guard, to give Stevens some halfway normal rotation options.
The Hawks have injury troubles of their own. Al Horford, their best player, has been out for some time with a pectoral injury, while All-Star Paul Millsap hurt his knee after returning from the break and will also miss the game.
The projected starters appear below.
4:58 p.m.: While birthday boy Rajon Rondo should be good to go, Jared Sullinger appears to be holding onto his place on the shelf. A concussion is expected to sideline Sullinger for a third straight game tonight against the Hawks.
8 a.m. ET: Watch out, NBA draft lottery. Here come the Atlanta Hawks.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Hawks had something in common with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers: They were one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference with winning records. But an eight-game losing streak dropped the Hawks (26-30) to eighth place in the conference, just barely in the playoff picture.
The only team the Hawks have beaten since Feb. 4 is the New York Knicks — who, you might have heard, are terrible.
The Boston Celtics (19-39) will try to keep Atlanta skidding on Wednesday. The Celtics are on a slide of their own, having dropped five straight, just as new drama regarding Rajon Rondo arises. The East is not a pretty picture, but these two clubs don’t need to try quite so hard to prove it.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.