Hawks doomed by 4th quarter collapse in 94-87 loss to Celtics


Nov 23, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford (15) attempts to defend Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

With 9 minutes and 30 seconds left in Saturday night’s game against the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks held a 81-70 lead and seemed to be fully in control of both the tempo and the scoreboard. From that point on, however, everything seemed to go wrong for the Hawks, and the final result swung in the other direction, as the team dropped a home decision by the score of 94-87.

Simple math dictates that Boston outscored Atlanta by a 24-6 margin in the final 9 and a half minutes, and if that wasn’t enough “shock” value for you, the shooting numbers should do the trick. The Hawks absolutely collapsed in terms of offensive efficiency in the final frame, converting only 2 of their final 18 field goal attempts in route to a 13-point final quarter (and a 21.7% output from the field). Obviously, there is no excuse worthy of that type of collapse (Boston scored 30 points on 52.9% shooting in the 4th), and the wheels just went careening off of the proverbial car down the stretch.

Former Hawks guard Jordan Crawford led six players in double-figures for Boston, as the normally shot-happy Crawford posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists to go along with a game-best +24 on-court rating. Coming into the night, I never would have expected Crawford to out-duel Jeff Teague, but in the end, that is exactly what took place.

The aforementioned Teague finished just 3 of 15 from the field on the night, which doubles as his worst offensive output of the seasson. He did add double-digit assists with 10, but Teague was one of the bigger culprits in the brick-fest that was the final frame, and not even his 7 for 8 output from the charity stripe could help things here.

Teague wasn’t the only member of the starting five that struggled, as the final tally shows that each of the 5 regulars finished with at least (or at most) a -7 rating. Al Horford was the lone bright spot with 18 points and 7 rebounds, but even Al wasn’t immune to the cold shooting, as he failed to crack 50% at 9 for 19 from the field. As a team, the Hawks shot just 38.7% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc as a team, and while that was certainly aided by the late failings, it was an across-the-board issue.

On the more favorable side for Atlanta, Hawks swingman Kyle Korver inched closer to NBA history by continuing his three-point streak. Korver’s triple on the 3rd possession of the game (which actually was his only one of the night) upped his streak to a mind-blowing 87 games, and with that, he is now just 2 games shy of Dana Barros and the all-time record for most consecutive games with a 3-pointer.

In addition to Kyle, the Hawks did keep their recent binge of turnovers to a minimum, and that is nice to see. There have been multiple examples lately (remember Miami?) of the Hawks simply giving the ball away at will, but the final tally of just 8 on the night allowed Atlanta to attempt twenty-one more shots than Boston, and it was frankly the only reason why the game was as competitive as it was.

Sometimes, the schedule simply beats you in the NBA, and there is a real argument that exhaustion was the cause (or at least a contributing factor) of this late collapse. Playing 4 games in 5 nights is as bad as it gets from a scheduling standpoint, and it certainly seemed to be a large influence on the final score of this game. However, not even that excuse can explain this type of breakdown to close out a game, and you can bet that Mike Budenholzer will have plenty to discuss with the team between now and the next time they take the court.

Now, the Hawks will have two full days off before squaring off with the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, and they’ll be looking to get the negative taste of a bad home loss out of their mouths.