The Boston Celtics stepped into the national spotlight for the first time this season Tuesday night. They didn’t exactly light up the stage.
In just their second nationally televised contest since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were in town, the Celtics were run out of Philips Arena by an efficient Atlanta Hawks team in a 121-97 blowout loss.
Avery Bradley posted another strong effort with a team-high 25 points, two assists and three steals, but Atlanta wore Boston down with excellent ball movement and solid defense. The Hawks outscored the C’s 40-24 in the fourth quarter to make the game a runaway.
The Celtics lost both games on their two-game road trip and have dropped three of their last four contests.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson
Such was the Celtics’ offense in most of the first half.
Boston got off to a rough start from the field, but Bradley single-handedly kept the C’s afloat by shooting the lights out. The 24-year-old shooting guard poured in 19 first half points on 8 of 12 shooting, while Boston’s other four starters went 4 for 16 over the same span.
Bradley scored 14 of the Celtics’ 28 points in the first quarter.
LETTING IT FLY
Boston gave Atlanta too many open looks in the first half, and the sharpshooting Hawks made the C’s pay.
The Hawks shot 58 percent (22 for 38) through the first 24 minutes. Many of those makes came on uncontested shots, as Boston’s usually stout defense had several lapses that led to plays like this:
Jeff Teague was one of the best players on the floor Tuesday night. Isaiah Thomas was not.
The Hawks point guard tallied 16 points and a game-high nine assists. Thomas, meanwhile, had arguably his worst game in a Celtics uniform, going 3 for 11 from the floor (14 points) and committing five turnovers, four of which came in the first quarter.
Rookie R.J. Hunter was a bright spot for Boston while playing down the road from his alma mater, Georgia State.
With his father in the audience, Hunter tallied a career-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and went 2 for 3 from 3-point range.
NO NO NO, NOT TODAY
The Hawks retired Dikembe Mutombo’s No. 55 jersey at halftime, and apparently the team took their tribute to the court.
Atlanta recorded seven blocks on the night, including this monster swat by Mike Muscala in the first half.
The Hawks’ talented bigs outplayed Boston’s frontcourt, with Paul Millsap pouring in 25 points and the team out-rebounding the Celtics 43 to 33.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
David Lee found Jae Crowder with a beautiful backdoor pass in the first half:
The Celtics return to the friendly confines of TD Garden on Wednesday night to play the Philadelphia 76ers, who haven’t won a basketball game since March 25. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports Images