ATLANTA (AP) — The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure on Trae Young, and turned to Grant Williams for a key basket at the end.
It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, but it was good enough for Boston’s fourth straight win.
Jayson Tatum scored 28 points and the Celtics held on for a 123-115 victory over the Atlanta Hawks yesterday.
“It was ugly,” Jaylen Brown said, “but we figured it out.”
Trailing 117-113, the Hawks had a shot when a video review overturned a call along the baseline that initially gave Boston the ball.
But Brown came up with a steal off Young’s deflected pass at the other end, giving the Celtics a chance to finish it off. They milked the shot clock before Williams took off down the lane, speeding past the Hawks’ defence to bank one in with 37.6 seconds remaining.
Boston coach Brad Stevens knew his team got away with one.
“I don’t think throwing the ball all over the gym is a recipe for a win,” he said, referring to 15 turnovers and some sloppy play down the stretch.
With ailing Kemba Walker watching from the bench, Gordon Hayward scored 24 points and Brown chipped in with 21 for the Celtics.
Young led Atlanta with 34 points, his 25th game with at least 30 points this season. Kevin Huerter had 23 points, including five three-pointers, and John Collins notched his fourth straight double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Plagued by injuries, the Hawks were forced to go with a small lineup that didn’t have a whole lot of chemistry. That was evident by the struggles of their All-Star point guard, who matched his career high with nine turnovers.
“There were a lot of times when I was jumping in the air and passing, expecting someone to be in the corner, and it just wasn’t there,” Young said. “I turned it over way too many times tonight. That’s a big part of why we lost.”
With Young putting up 23 points by halftime, the Hawks held a 62-60 lead at the break.
The Celtics scored the first seven points of the third quarter and steadily pushed their edge to as high as 13 points. They were up 95-84 heading to the final period.
The Hawks got as close as two, and were still hanging around after back-to-back 3s by Huerter. But Boston never ceded the lead.