April 20, 2016 / 2:17 AM / 3 years ago

Korver breaks out of slump to lead Hawks to victory

(The Sports Xchange) - Kyle Korver busted out of a shooting slump and buried the banged-up Boston Celtics with a barrage of first-half 3-pointers in an 89-72 Atlanta Hawks win in Game 2 Tuesday at Philips Arena.

Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott (32) attempts a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko (8) and guard Terry Rozier (12) in the fourth quarter of game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 89-72. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Korver hit five 3-pointers, four coming in the first seven minutes of the game, to put the Celtics in another big early hole. He entered the game having made only three of his last 19 3-point attempts, including an 0-for-7 performance in Game 1.

Atlanta led by as many as 21 in the first half Tuesday. They built a 19-point lead in the first half of Game 1, before fending off a Celtics rally in a one-point win. There was no serious rally in Game 2.

Atlanta’s Al Horford scored 17 points and blocked five shots, and Jeff Teague scored 13 points and had six assists.

The series shifts to Boston on Friday, with the Hawks leading 2-0.

The Celtics were without their best two-way player in Avery Bradley, who injured his hamstring in Game 1 and is expected to miss the rest of the series. Marcus Smart started in place of Bradley and struggled. The second-year guard didn’t score until the fourth quarter and finished with three points on 1-for-11 shooting.

Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored 27 points in Game 1, finished with only 16 Tuesday, half of those points coming in the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach. Amir Johnson added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics.

Atlanta jumped out to a 24-3 lead that featured four Korver 3-pointers in the first seven minutes. Boston shot 13.6 percent from the floor in the first quarter and finished with seven points, the lowest-scoring quarter in the franchise’s playoff history.

Atlanta cooled off in an ugly second quarter, allowing Boston to chip away at the lead. The Celtics got within 10, 36-26, on a Johnson bucket. But Korver answered with another 3-pointer, and Boston went scoreless in the final five minutes of the half. The Hawks took a 43-28 lead into halftime.

Other than Atlanta’s sizzling start, the game was sloppy, bordering on hard to watch at times. Each team turned it over 10 times in the second quarter. The Hawks went ice-cold from the floor, connecting on 13 of 43 field goals in the second and third quarters.

With eight minutes to play, Atlanta’s starting forwards Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore were a combined 3 of 24 from the field. And the Hawks still led by 19, after veteran Thabo Sefolosha hit a corner 3-pointer that put Atlanta up 72-53 with seven minutes left. The Hawks shot only 39 percent for the game, but connected on 11 3-pointers.

The Celtics were dismal and looked dejected down the stretch. Coach Brad Sevens sat stoically on the bench, his chin rested in his hand, watching his team shoot 31.8 percent from the floor, including 5 of 28 on 3-pointers.

Boston has fallen behind big in their last three games, dating back to the regular-season finale against the Miami Heat. The Celtics rallied back from 26 down to beat the Heat that night, but have not been able to overcome the big holes they’ve dug themselves against the Hawks to start the playoffs.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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