NBA Game Summary - Boston at Atlanta
(Saturday, April 12th)
Final Score: Boston 99, Atlanta 89
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Sam Cassell scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and the Boston bench sparked a huge fourth quarter run as the Celtics topped Atlanta, 99-89, preventing the Hawks from clinching a playoff berth.
Kevin Garnett notched a game-high 24 points for the Celtics, who won for the ninth time in their last 10 games. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each scored 14 for Boston, while Glen Davis had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Joe Johnson poured in 21 points and handed out eight assists for the Hawks, losers of three of five. Al Horford contributed 17 points and 11 boards, while Mike Bibby finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Atlanta could have clinched a playoff spot with a win, after Indiana lost to Charlotte on Saturday. The Hawks still hold a two-game lead over the Pacers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two games left in the regular season.
"Every time we get so close to clinching it slips right out of our hands," said Hawks forward Josh Smith. "We just can't mope, we've got to go out there and try to take it on Tuesday against Orlando when they come here."
Josh Childress put in a layup to put the Hawks on top, 76-74, in the first minute of the fourth quarter, and Bibby's three with 2 1/2 minutes gone extended the cushion to five, 81-76.
Another three from Bibby stretched the lead to 84-78, before the Celtics ran off six straight points and tied the game on Cassell's floater with just over five minutes remaining.
Tony Allen's pull-up jumper put the Celtics on top, 86-84, inside of four minutes to play, and Davis extended the lead to four on a hook shot with 2:55 left. After Cassell made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to push the advantage to five, Cassell drained a jumper from the free throw line to cap the 13-0 run and give Boston a 91-84 lead with 1:48 on the clock.
Horford's jumper cut the lead to five, before Cassell and Bibby traded shots from beyond the arc, leaving Atlanta down 94-89 with 1:08 left. Cassell responded with a three on Boston's next possession, then Tony Allen drained a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds, as Boston's bench scored all 25 of the Celtics' fourth quarter points.
"At halftime I told our coaches I thought we honestly had a better chance to win with our second unit than with our starters," said Boston coach Doc Rivers. "You could just see it in the third that they're energy was low. You can't fault them, they've earned the right to rest in some ways, so we went with the bench."
Boston came out of the gates hot, shooting 60 percent from the floor in the opening quarter en route to a 30-22 lead after 12 minutes.
The Hawks opened the second quarter on a 13-4 run to take a 35-34 lead on Zaza Pachulia's layup just over 3 1/2 minutes in, but the Celtics rebounded with the next eight points and closed the half strong to take a 55-44 lead into the locker room.
Atlanta fought back early in the third quarter, and used seven straight points to tie the game, 61-61, when Smith converted a three-point play just before the halfway mark of the stanza.
Johnson's jumper put the Hawks in front, 65-63, with 5:48 left in the third, and the squads traded the lead back-and-forth for the remainder of the period, with Horford's jumper at the buzzer sending the game to the fourth quarter tied, 74-74.
The Celtics shot 47.2 percent from the field and held Atlanta to 43.2 percent shooting...The Celtics made 26-of-29 at the charity stripe, while the Hawks were just 15-of-24 from the foul line...Smith added 17 points for the Hawks...Atlanta finishes its season with a home game with the Magic followed by a road contest in Miami...Boston travels to New York on Monday, then hosts New Jersey to finish the regular season.
04/12 22:20:39 ET