For the second time in three games, the Atlanta Hawks surged past the Boston Celtics in the second half to steal a win from Boston, 102-96. Correction; tonight , the refs stole the game from the Celtics. And that’s not just sour grapes from a bitter Celtics fan.
Boston led by 10 points midway through the third quarter, but a fast break foul by Glen Davis on Marvin Williams led to a bizarre sequence that included a flagrant foul on Davis, an ejection for Doc Rivers, and another technical foul on assistant coach, Armond Hill. Atlanta was then awarded 5 free throws and the ball, which completely changed the momentum of the game, and gave the Hawks a much-needed burst of energy.
The flagrant foul on Davis was a very weak call, considering Davis made not one, but two attempts to block the shot and clearly had no ill intentions. Rivers angrily protested the call, and was ejected before the Comcast camera could even find him. Doc deserved one technical foul, but the second technical, as well as the third technical on Hill were atrocious and made me believe Tim Donaghy’s claims even more.
After Rivers was ejected, and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau took over, Boston stopped executing offensively and the wheels slowly fell off. Fourth quarter offense consisted of isolations for Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins, with the rest of guys standing around the perimeter. Fatigue also played a role in the late-game letdown, as Thibodeau did not make one substitution after being handed the playbook by Rivers with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
Surprise starter Brian Scalabrine gave the Celtics an early boost and got the TD Bank crowd into the game by nailing 3 first half 3-pointers on his way to 9 points, 5 rebounds and a great defensive effort against Josh Smith. Scalabrine did not play after River was ejected.
Paul Pierce (19 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts) and Rajon Rondo (26 pts, 7 asts) also had great games, but disappeared in the fourth quarter amidst the poor shot selection and lack of ball movement.
With the Celtics offense struggling mightily, Hawks Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford seized the opportunity by making all the big shots in the fourth quarter. Johnson finished with a game-high 36 points, while Crawford added 17 points and 6 assists.
Atlanta moved to 3-0 against the Boston this season, 24-13 overall.
Boston, plagued with injuries recently, is just 3-5 in their last 8 games, but fortunately play the NBA bottom-dweller New Jersey Nets next on Wednesday night.