The Boston Celtics had been digging themselves big holes during their three-game losing streak, but that changed Friday night.
Boston scored 45 (!) points in the first quarter, paced by Kyrie Irving’s 11, en route to a 114-96 rout of the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. The Celtics had been struggling as of late after being heavy favorites to win the Eastern Conference with their star-studded lineup, but after their recent loss to the lowly New York Knicks, the team knew it needed to have some sense of urgency against Atlanta.
“We gotta be urgent with every game,” forward Gordon Hayward said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston. “Today was a good start on this trip. We wanna make this a serious business trip and we got another tough one tomorrow.”
Head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw in the first. And how could he not? It was a full-team effort for the first 12 minutes from the starting five and reserves. They also did it all without Al Horford, who’s nursing a sore knee. Stevens praised his team after the game, highlights one aspect of their play in particular. .
“I just thought our pace was really good,” he said. “Starters and the bench.”
The bench accounted for 53 points on the night, including 12 from Terry Rozier, 11 from Hayward and nine combined points between Brad Wanamaker and Robert Williams. Boston also shot 64 percent and scored eight of their 11 points from distance.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Celtics-Hawks game:
— Hayward played in his third consecutive game off the bench and tallied 11 points. He’s been efficient, to say the least, and the forward said he’ll continue playing from the bench if it means more wins for the C’s.
“It’s about us trying to get wins. So I’m trying to do whatever I can to help us,” he said. “And when I’m on the court I gotta just play my game.”
Hayward continues to be a difference-maker for Boston and seems to be finding a groove as he’s netted double digits in his last two games.
— Boston’s 45 first-quarter points is the most in a road game since 1996.
— Aron Baynes paced all Celtics with 16 points.
— Even though the team desperately needed a win, especially to start a road trip, Irving said the C’s cannot get complacent, especially with a tough Dallas Mavericks team on deck.