The Boston Celtics' comeback bid vs. the Atlanta Hawks came up short as they dropped Friday night's matchup, 108-92.
Atlanta took a 15-point lead into the half, but the Celtics were able to cut the deficit to three heading into the fourth quarter. Big shots from Trae Young (21 points), Bogdan Bogdanovic (19), and Danilo Gallinari (14) in the game's final 12 minutes ultimately propelled the Hawks to their sixth straight victory. John Collins also had a nice night for Atlanta with 21 points.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 points to go with 12 rebounds, marking the first time in his career he's notched three consecutive double-doubles. Jayson Tatum chipped in 20 points while Marcus Smart added 17.
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Here are three takeaways from the Celtics' loss, which brings them to 25-25 on the season. They'll play the second night of a back-to-back Saturday vs. the New Orleans Pelicans.
Hawks dominate battle of the benches
The Celtics had no answer for the Hawks' second unit and failed to get much production out of their own.
Atlanta's bench outscored Boston's 43-13 and hit 16 of their 29 shots from the floor. The Celtics' reserves were just 6-for-25.
Bogdanovic was the primary culprit for the Hawks with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting in 28 minutes. Gallinari maintained his reputation as a Celtics killer with 14 points (5-5 FG) in 25 minutes. Lou Williams added eight points of his own in 15 minutes.
As for the C's, Grant Williams couldn't get his 3s to fall as he went 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and didn't tally a point in 23 minutes. Josh Richardson led the second unit with seven points but shot just 3-for-9 from the field. Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, and Dennis Schroder contributed only two points apiece.
That glaring bench disparity ended up being the difference-maker on Friday night.
Celtics' red-hot offense goes cold
The Celtics offense was scorching over its last couple of games with 116 points against the Washington Wizards and 128 vs. the Sacramento Kings. It couldn't keep it going for a third consecutive night as it struggled mightily for three of its four quarters in Atlanta.
Tatum cooled down after a dominant couple of performances against the Washington Wizards (51 points) and Sacramento Kings (36). The 23-year-old shot just 5-of-17 from the floor and was a lackluster 2-for-8 from long range. He also turned the ball over five times, his highest total in two weeks.
Brown finished with a game-high 26 points, but it was an inefficient shooting performance for the All-Star wing. He ended up 9-for-22 from the field and 2-for-9 from 3, making the Jays a combined 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. Brown also had seven of the Celtics' 16 turnovers.
Marcus Smart does his part
It was a dismal night offensively for pretty much every Celtic not named Marcus Smart. The veteran point guard was the bright spot for Boston throughout Friday night's game, dropping 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting (2-of-4 from 3). He also had six rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Smart has been excellent for the Celtics in all three games since returning from health and safety protocols. After focusing on his playmaking vs. the Wizards and Kings, he reminded everyone he can still get it done offensively when called upon.