The Boston Celtics didn’t play very well Monday night in Atlanta, but it didn’t matter because Kyrie Irving saved the day with a season-high 35 points to propel the C’s to a 110-107 victory.
Irving became the Celtics’ first 30-point scorer of the season, and his outburst helped lead Boston to its ninth straight win. Three other Celtics starters scored double-digits, as rookie Jayson Tatum poured in 21, Al Horford added 15 and Jaylen Brown posted 11.
The Celtics improved to 9-2 with the win, while the Hawks fell to 2-9. Boston still has the best record in the NBA.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
The Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and then the Celtics went on a quick 9-0 run led by five points, three rebounds and an assist by Horford.
The C’s missed their next five shots before Irving hit a 3-pointer, and it didn’t get much better for Boston after that. Brown and Irving exited early after picking up three and two fouls, respectively. The C’s as a team shot just 7-for-22 from the floor and 2-for-9 from 3-point range in the quarter.
The Celtics still led 26-25 after 12 minutes despite their poor shooting. The Hawks turned the ball over six times and shot 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. It was a bad quarter in several areas for Boston, but it didn’t matter much because Atlanta is one of the league’s worst teams.
The Hawks outplayed the Celtics bench to begin the second quarter, and it led to Boston taking an early timeout after a hustle play gave Atlanta a 32-31 lead.
Irving was one of the few bright spots for the C’s in the first half. He scored a team-high 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Eleven of Irving’s points came in the second quarter. Horford also gave a solid all-around performance with nine points, five rebounds and four assists.
Dewayne Dedmon and Dennis Schroeder led the Hawks with 13 points apiece, as Atlanta shot 55 percent as a team and scored 26 points in the paint.
The score was tied 54-54 at halftime.
BUILDING A LEAD
The Hawks started the second half hot with a 7-0 run, and later stretched their lead to 71-64 on back-to-back 3-pointers. The Celtics stormed back, though, forcing a timeout after trimming the Hawks’ lead to one on a 3-point shot by Tatum.
Another Tatum shot from beyond the arc capped a 17-7 Boston run to pull ahead 80-73. Tatum finished with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting through three quarters. The rookie forward was one of three Celtics starters to score in double-digits through 36 minutes.
The Celtics led 82-75 entering the fourth quarter. Their defense was much better and held the Hawks to 33-percent shooting in the third stanza.
Irving upped his scoring total to 23 in the quarter, giving him 20-plus points in seven of the team’s 11 games this season. Schroeder led the Hawks with 21 and kept them within striking distance with eight points in the third.
The Celtics’ bench helped grow the lead for most of the fourth quarter. Semi Ojeleye hit a pair of 3-point shots, while Daniel Theis provided solid interior defense. Marco Belinelli scored four quick points to help the Hawks get within 95-90 and force the Celtics to take a timeout with 6:57 remaining in the quarter.
The Hawks kept attacking and took a 96-95 lead on a Kent Bazemore 3-pointer. The Celtics quickly regained the lead, but the Hawks got it back with a Malcolm Delaney 3-point shot. Atlanta made five of their first six 3-point field goals of the quarter. Irving answered right back, though, nailing a 3-pointer to propel Boston ahead 104-103.
After a few bad Hawks possessions, Tatum drilled a corner 3-point shot to give the Celtics a 107-103 edge. Irving sealed the win with a floater from the foul line.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Irving has sweet, sweet handles.
The Celtics return to TD Garden for a Wednesday night matchup with the rival Los Angeles Lakers. The action starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images