A 34-point night from Jayson Tatum was not enough for the Celtics to topple the Hawks at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on Wednesday night, as Ime Udoka’s squad fell by a 110-99 final.
In Atlanta without Rob Williams and still without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics’ only taste of a lead in this game came in the first quarter, but ended with the Green down by one (30-29), and the Hawks never looked back.
The Hawks’ Kevin Huerter did the bulk of Atlanta’s damage in the opening half, too, with 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting, including makes on all but one of his six three-point tries through the first 24 minutes of action.
Boston made a strong push to begin the second half and brought themselves within four points on the Hawks on multiple occasions throughout the third quarter, but failed to find that extra gear to tie and/or take the lead against Atlanta.
STEP BACK 3? THAT WAS NASTY TATUM! pic.twitter.com/PWKuP4H2Sg— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 18, 2021
Tatum’s 34-point night was an obvious positive for the Celtics, and his 54.5 field goal percentage was his third-highest game total of the season, and best since a 63.2 percent in a Nov. 6 loss to the Mavericks.
But the problem for the Celtics in this one came with a lack of support behind Tatum, as Grant Williams was the C’s next-highest scorer (18 points) and while the team went a combined 11-for-42 (26.2 percent) from beyond the arc. Take Tatum’s five three-pointers out of that and the team went just 6-for-29 from three-point range (less than 21 percent).
The bench also failed to do much of anything in this game, as it was Josh Richardson who amassed all 11 of the Green’s bench scoring in the losing effort. A brutal moment for the bench: With the game still within reach in the second half, center Enes Kanter hauled in two offensive rebounds back-to-back and failed to put down either shot.
“We didn’t knock ’em down,” Udoka said. “Gotta do our part to help [Tatum] out when he’s rolling.”
With the loss, the Celtics wrapped up their three-game road swing with stops in Cleveland and Atlanta at 1-2, and fell back under .500. That quest for above-average remains an elusive one for the C’s, too, as they have still yet to get over the .500 mark this year, drawing back to .500 on three separate occasions but losing the next game all three times.
The Celtics will return to Boston for a Friday night meeting with the Lakers. The Lakers are expected to get LeBron James, who has been out with an abdominal injury since Nov. 2, back in action for the head-to-head.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.