Horford to the rescue as Hawks beat Celtics

Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:31pm EDT
 
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(The Sports Xchange) - The Atlanta Hawks were melting down, their 19-point lead over the Boston Celtics long gone. Al Horford wasn't going down like that, though.

Horford scored 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made multiple hustle plays down the stretch, allowing Atlanta to escape with a 102-101 win Saturday in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference playoffs series that is expected to be tight.

After trailing by as many as 19 in the first, Boston's Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart sparked a second-half rally. It was the second straight improbable comeback for the Celtics, who stormed back from 26 down in a win over the Miami Heat in the final game of the regular season. Boston nearly did it again Saturday.

Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points, and Bradley scored 18 points, before suffering a lower leg injury midway through the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the floor and taken back to the locker room. Bradley did not return.

Smart hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the second tying the game, 80-80 with 7:30 to play. Jae Crowder followed with a go-ahead 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their first lead of the game with 6:50 to play.

Jeff Teague made three of four free throws in the 15 seconds to secure the win for the Hawks.

Horford came up huge for Atlanta, though. He had an assist to Kent Bazemore, while sitting on the floor and then hustled down an offensive rebound off his own miss that led to two free throws in the final minutes.

Bazemore had a big game with 23 points and eight rebounds, while Teague finished with 20 points and 12 assists.

After scoring 34 points in the first half and trailing by as many as 19, Boston scored 31 points in third quarter to get back into the game. The Celtics scored 34 in the entire first half. Atlanta led by seven, 72-65, entering the fourth quarter.   Continued...

 
Apr 16, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott (32) goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics  forward Amir Johnson (90) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports