January 4, 2020 / 2:50 AM / 21 days ago

Celtics fend off Hawks’ upset bid behind Brown’s 24 points

EditorsNote: minor edits throughout

Jan 3, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Daniel Theis (27) signs a fan's shirt before their game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Theis blocked a potential go-ahead basket by Trae Young with 2.7 seconds remaining as the Boston Celtics held off the visiting Atlanta Hawks, 109-106, on Friday.

Jaylen Brown had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead all five starters scoring in double figures for the Celtics, who won for the seventh time in their last eight games. Enes Kanter chipped in 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Boston, which played without Kemba Walker (flu).

Young had 28 points and 10 assists in his return from a two-game absence with a sprained ankle, Kevin Huerter scored 17 and John Collins was at 16 before exiting in the third with a back contusion for the Hawks, who have dropped 11 of 12.

Atlanta got within two, 103-101, on a Huerter dunk with 3:37 to go and made it 105-104 when Alex Len hit 1 of 2 at the line with 52.8 seconds left. Marcus Smart responded with a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 108-104 lead with 42.3 seconds remaining.

After Len hit a tip-in to make it a two-point game, Young had a chance to put Atlanta up in the final seconds before Theis swatted it away. Young was assessed a technical foul in the aftermath, and Smart made the free throw to seal the outcome.

The Celtics trailed by as much as 18 in the first quarter but used a 34-23 scoring edge in the second to get within two at the half. Boston was up by six, 73-67, before Young drained back-to-back 3-pointers to even things at 73 with 3:12 left in the third.

A Gordon Hayward 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to go helped Boston to an 82-80 lead entering the fourth.

The Hawks took advantage of sloppy Celtics shooting to start, using a 25-5 run to jump out to a 29-11 lead with 1:17 left in the first. Atlanta held a 32-19 edge after one.

Boston began the second with a 13-6 stretch and would get within one, 44-43, on a pair of Jayson Tatum free throws with 5:08 to go but entered intermission down 55-53.

Collins led all scorers with 14 points at the break. Brown paced Boston with 11.

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