Celtics

Rozier drops career-high 31 points as Celtics beat Hawks, 119-110

Rozier drops career-high 31 points as Celtics beat Hawks, 119-110

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier's second act as an NBA starter was just as impressive as his first.

Rozier had a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds in his second career start, Jayson Tatum added a career-high 27 points and the short-handed Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 119-110 on Friday night.

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Rozier started in place of the injured Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard became the second player in league history with a triple-double in his first start, totaling 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Wednesday's blowout of the Knicks.

"Both (starts had) just the same feeling," Rozier said. "Just wanting to come out aggressive, do what I can on the offensive and defensive end. My teammates made it so easy for me because they play so hard. We just play hard collectively as a group."

Irving missed his second straight game with a right quad contusion that he suffered in Monday's win at Denver and was one of four Boston players who sat with injuries on Friday.

Rozier will soon have to yield his starting backcourt spot to Irving - and he's fine with that.

"Kyrie's probably one of my biggest supporters, outside of my family, through this little process," Rozier said. "I know he's happy for me, and when he comes back we're just going to pick it up."

Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and Al Horford had 17 with seven assists to help lead Boston to its fourth win in five tries.

Taruean Prince had a career-high 31 points and eight rebounds to lead the Hawks, who have lost five of six. Dennis Schroder added 25 points and Marco Belinelli had 15.

Trailing 55-53 at halftime, Boston opened a 19-point lead heading into the fourth quarter after outscoring Atlanta 41-20 in the third.

"They got off to a quick start (in the third)," Prince said. "We kind of lagged defensively. I can blame myself for that one. ... They were hitting a lot of good shots, too."

Rozier passed his previous career best of 23 points on a pair of free throws with 1:10 remaining in the third. He eclipsed 30 points with a 3-pointer at 6:10 of the final period. Irving is the only other Celtics player with a 30-point game this season.

Schroder's jumper with 7:19 left brought the Hawks within 10 at 103-93, but Atlanta wouldn't come any closer until the final minute with the game out of reach.

Atlanta led 32-26 after one quarter.

"Pretty good (first) half of basketball," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "It felt like we could have had more of a cushion. Six- to eight-point lead, and it's two at the half. Just a huge third quarter for them."

BLEEDING GREEN

Only 10 players suited up for Boston as Irving, F Marcus Morris (bruised left hip), Gs Shane Larkin (right knee soreness) and Marcus Smart (right hand laceration) were sidelined with injuries.

"It speaks a lot (about) the guys here," Horford said.

PRINCE ASCENDS

Prince was named as an injury replacement for Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon in the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend. Prince will join Hawks rookie forward John Collins on the U.S. team roster.

"Kind of excited, kind of relieved because I felt like I did enough work this summer to be able to be in the game from the jump, but God has his own route," said Prince, who is Atlanta's third-leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game. "That's the reason I had a little fire to me tonight."

GREG WHO?

The Celtics have not announced their reported signing of recently bought-out C Greg Monroe, but that didn't stop Morris from weighing in on the potential addition.

"I think that's a great pick-up for us," Morris said. "Veteran player, knows how to play the game, been around the league for a while, so I think he'd be an add to our size down low, (our) scoring ability."

TIP-INS

Hawks: Schroder played after being listed as questionable with a right shoulder strain. ... F DeAndre' Bembry (left adductor strain) missed his 20th straight game.

Celtics: All five Boston starters scored in double figures for the first time Dec. 23. ... Coach Brad Stevens said Irving is feeling "a little bit better" and is considered day-to-day. ... Morris said he will be questionable to play Sunday. ... Smart will likely miss an additional 10 to 14 days, Stevens said.

UP NEXT

Hawks: Complete a two-game trip Sunday against the Knicks.

Celtics: Host Portland on Sunday to wrap up a three-game homestand.

Horford knows Celtics need to take it one day at a time

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Horford knows Celtics need to take it one day at a time

LOS ANGELES – Al Horford is credited for consistently being someone whose play contributes heavily to winning games.

But it was in defeat in the playoffs nearly a decade ago to the Boston Celtics that has shaped him into the player we see before us today.

“They were a tough team,” Horford said of the eventual NBA champion Celtics. “Defensively, just as good as they come. They looked like a very together group.”

Horford added, “It helped me tremendously. It helped that team that I was with in Atlanta, a lot. To have that experience, to go against the eventual champions but at that time a veteran team like the Celtics, it really but really made me realize the level I needed to play and the things I needed to do to for the team to be successful.”

And those lessons have helped shape the 31-year-old into being a five-time all-star whose teams have been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA.

“That first year could not have gone any better. It was a great learning experience and I felt it helped set up the rest of my career,” Horford said.

These days, Horford finds himself as the voice of experience on a Celtics team that has been among the NBA’s best squads for most of this season.

Horford has an open-door policy when it comes to doling out advice and tips for improvement, to his younger teammates.

But he knows first-hand the greatest teacher is experience.

“You can say things but you have to live through different things,” Horford said. “The biggest thing I try to emphasize to them and coach (Brad Stevens) talks about, is embracing the now. It’s about taking advantage of what we have now. 

Horford added, "I've been in the league, this is my 11th year, you never know if you’re going to have the same teammates next year. That happened to us last year. We had a great year and I look around and it’s only four of us remaining. I just think it’s embracing and taking advantage of doing the best you can with the group you have.”

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Horford can cross skills challenge off his bucket list

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Horford can cross skills challenge off his bucket list

LOS ANGELES – After making a near-perfect pass during the early stages of the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Al Horford was feeling good about his chances of winning.

But near the end, the final stage – knocking down a 3-pointer – proved to be Horford’s undoing as Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid eliminated Horford in the first round after Horford missed three consecutive three-pointers.

“It happens. It was fun,” Horford said.

Embiid, who was eliminated in the next round by Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen, said he was nervous before the event.

“I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast,” Embiid told reporters. “I have no idea. But I thought it was fun.”

Although Horford has been a part of all-star weekend four times prior to tonight, this was the first time he participated in the Skills Challenge.

“It’s different. I normally come as a fan,” he said. “This time it was a little different, just getting your mind set and come out here and compete and win. It’s good to be a part of it. Now I can just scratch that off.”

When I asked him about tips or advice from teammates, he said the only thing they told him was he “had to win it.”

“I let them down so I have to make it up in the season,” said Horford, grinning.

Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie wound up winning the event, over Markkanen.

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