Jayson Tatum’s 34 helps Celtics hold off Hawks comeback, 134-125
The Celtics’ offense was unstoppable, leading to 20 3-pointers in the win.
ATLANTA (AP) – Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said his Celtics survived because they were able to “manage the chaos” when the Atlanta Hawks refused a late-game comeback bid.
That helped the Celtics make 20 3-pointers.
Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to lead a balanced offense and the Celtics overcame Atlanta’s fourth-quarter comeback effort to beat the Hawks 134-125 on Saturday night.
“We’re playing at the level we’re supposed to be playing at,” Tatum said. “We responded when we needed to.”
The Celtics opened a six-game road trip with six players in double figures. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points. Tatum added 15 rebounds.
“We thought about what we wanted to accomplish,” Mazzulla said after the Celtics cemented second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Trae Young had 35 points and 13 assists for Atlanta, which couldn’t keep up the momentum after the wins in Washington. The Hawks remain eighth in the East.
With 1:25 left and Boston leading 129-121, Young and Marcus Smart had to be separated after they tangled and fell to the court under the Celtics’ basket. Before a lengthy review by the officials, Smart was called for his first foul and two players were called for a technical foul and Smart was ejected from the field.
“I just saw the two of them going at each other on twitter,” Celtics center Al Horford said. “We were all trying to limit the damage.”
Sean Wright, the head coach of the officiating team, told a reporter at the pool that Smart was ejected for “grabbing Trae Young and taking him away.” Wright told Young he received a technical foul for “standing up and showing Marcus Smart’s face.”
Young said he had “nothing to say” about the conflict. He made two free throws to cut the deficit to six points.
The Celtics, who had 35 assists with just nine turnovers, answered every Hawks challenge. Boston made 20 of 42 3s, while Atlanta made just 10 of 34.
Boston led by 16 at 60-44, but the Hawks rallied in the final period. Clint Capela’s layup cut Boston’s lead to 108-103 with 8:06 left. Boston still had a five-point lead before Smart’s 3-pointer made it 117-109.
Young’s 3-pointer put Atlanta back within 119-114 before Horford answered with a 3-pointer for Boston, and Tatum’s layup extended the lead to 10 points.
“I think the last two games we’ve been thinking about our possessions,” Horford said. “We had some struggles, but as a group we have to push forward and we did.”
Quin Snyder has focused heavily on defense, including 3-point shooting, since taking over as Atlanta’s coach on Feb. 26.
“If a team is going to go 20 3s a game, it’s hard to beat them,” Snyder said. “…It’s something we’ve been talking about and working on all the time and it’s the end result of not staying in front of the ball.”
Boston was greeted by a sellout crowd of 17,884 green-clad fans in Atlanta.
30-10 DOUBLE-DOUBLE (again)
Young has 10 games this season with at least 30 points and 10 assists, the most of any player in the Eastern Conference. His 61-game career streak is tied for seventh in NBA history with those accomplishments.
Celtics: C Robert Williams (left hamstring strain) missed his fourth game. PG Payton Pritchard (left heel) missed his second straight game. … Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White each had 18 points.
Hawks: G Bogdan Bogdanovic (back tightness) is out. … Dejounte Murray scored 14 points, his fourth game under 20 in his last five games.
Celtics: Visit Houston on Monday night.
Hawks: Minnesota hosts Monday night.
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