Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
According to the NBA schedule, the Celtics will host Phoenix on Wednesday. Last night they were a phoenix.Rising from the ashes of a 19-point, first-half deficit, the Celts turned the beating around in stunning fashion, taking an 89-81 victory from the Atlanta Hawks after it seemed yet another dispiriting defeat would be their fate.“We’re scrappy as (expletive) right now,” Kevin Garnett said. “This is what it is. We’re trying to get wins here, and the only way you can get them is sometimes you’ve got to go take them.”But to stage a brilliant comeback, the Celtics had to first construct an opening half that was as embarrassing as it was futile. The Hawks received 21 points from Lou Williams and shot 52.5 percent while cruising to a 53-38 lead that easily could have been larger.
The C’s plane touched down at 2:30 a.m. after a large Friday night win at the Garden. Yet for some reason it took the lads nearly 18 hours to make it to Philips Arena. Having been so lifeless as to seem altogether absent in the first half, the Celts pulled a regeneration move that had you wondering whether Dr. Frankenstein had joined the medical team.
After some strong Celtics words at halftime from captain Paul Pierce, the same Hawks who were able to score 31 points in the first quarter scored just 28 in the entire second half, shooting 14.3 percent in the third quarter and 25 percent overall for the final two periods.
Pierce had 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter while the Celtics were outscoring their hosts 33-9 and taking a measure of control. Rajon Rondo had four points, four rebounds and four assists in the third on the way to his 25th career triple-double (14, 11, 10).
The 2012 Celtics were defined by Kevin Garnett’s “grit and balls” description. Prior to this weekend, the 2013 edition could be described as anything but that. But with a dominating win Friday at home against the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics finally played defense. Last night they had all of Celtic nation rolling their eyes at halftime, wondering why they couldn’t even string together a lousy two game effort. By the time the buzzer sounded in ATL, grit and balls had been re-discovered.
Sure it was one game (one half really) but if the Celtics turn around this disappointing season, there’s no doubt this weekend will be looked upon as the checkpoint. According to Steve Bulpett’s piece above, Paul Pierce had enough of the bickering at halftime at laid down the hammer. During the post game interview, he basically said he was tired of seeing the team make the effort for six minutes here and there and wanted a full game of it. Tommy Heinsohn said essentially the same thing. The Celtics looked awful in the first half but played so well in the second half that they showed how good they really can be, essentially only needing to play really hard for 24 minutes to defeat a Hawks team that currently resides third in the Eastern Conference, just a handful of games behind the defending champion Miami Heat.
Atlanta scored 31 points in the first quarter, then only managed 28 total in the second HALF. The Hawks shot 7 for 28 (25%) in the second HALF. The Celtics scored 18 points on 14 second HALF turnovers by Atlanta. Lou Willams and Jeff Teague had 34 1st half points on 14-20 shooting. They had 11 combined on 2-6 shooting in the 2nd half. Paul Pierce made 6 baskets in the 2nd half. The Atlanta Hawks made 7. (that entire paragraph are compiled tweets from John’s account from last night… his tweets were so good I just had to include them)
While we shouldn’t get too high off this win we should certainly be encouraged. After all, I’ll leave it to the great Zack De La Rocha and his lyrics from Guerilla Radio: “It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime… what better place than here, what better time than now?”
Related links: ESPN Boston – A blueprint for success | Boston Globe – Second-half surge sparks Celtics to victory over Atlanta Hawks | CSNNE- Celtics rally for impressive win over Hawks | Stellar third quarter could turn C’s season | WEEI – Celtics’ second half rally topples Hawks
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Doc’s Take: No changes for C’s | Boston Globe – Celtics’ Avery Bradley struggling on offense so far in his return | Indiana Pacers can’t sneak up on rest of the NBA anymore (Sunday Notes) | Boston Herald – Captain Paul Pierce Speaks | A line of DeMarc-ation (Sunday Notes) | CSNNE – Pierce’s leadership gets Celtics back on track | Celtics-Hawks review: Bradley’s effort helps sparks Celtics | Terry: “We have our recipe for success” | Garnett: “Wins are rewarding, progress is icing on the cake” | Rondo, Bradley a dynamic duo