Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) shoots over Atlanta Hawks power forward Mike Scott (32) during the first quarter at TD Garden. (USA TODAY Sports: Winslow Townson)
BOSTON - Playing without injured center Al Horford, the Atlanta Hawks pulled off a pair of comebacks to edge the Boston Celtics 92-91 on Tuesday afternoon at TD Garden.
The Hawks, 2-1 since Horford was lost for the season with a torn right pectoral muscle, fell behind by 18 points in the first half. Atlanta rallied to inch ahead but trailed by 11 with 5:54 left in the game.
With a 10-0 run, the Hawks got right back in it and survived a wild final 90 seconds during which neither team scored.
Boston guard Jordan Crawford missed an off-balance jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Hawks to improve to 18-14.
Forward Paul Millsap scored 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, both season highs, and guard Jeff Teague hit two free throws with 1:30 remaining for the final points of the game. Teague finished with 16 points, including 12 in the second half.
Atlanta’s Kyle Korver missed his first five 3-pointers but then hit one and was fouled on the make with 6:10 left. That extended his NBA-record streak to 101 straight games with a 3-point field goal.
The four-point play started the Hawks’ second surge to overtake the Celtics for good.
The deflating loss was the latest installment of the Celtics’ inability to protect a lead, a habit that is become chronic.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens went to a new frontcourt in the third quarter Tuesday and it paid off, up until the end.
With starters Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass glued to the bench, rookie forward Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 21 points, 17 in the second half, and had five assists while forward Kris Humphries added 18 points and grabbed a season-high 10 boards.
Celtics starters totaled just 35 points.
Without Horford, the Hawks are more perimeter based offensively. After taking a club-record 39 3-pointers each of the last two games, they fired up 29 on Tuesday, making only five.
Millsap did what he could to keep his listless team alive in the first, but the Celtics built a 42-24 lead in the second quarter. Forward Gerald Wallace then missed a two-hand slam dunk for Boston, and the game shifted in Atlanta’s favor.
The Hawks, running off a 21-2 run bridging the halves, cut the lead to five by the end of the first half. Atlanta scored the first six points of the second half to take its first lead since 12-10. The visitors built a six-point lead, but the Celtics answered with a 3-pointer by Olynyk and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Crawford - and Crawford nailed a 3-point shot on the break as his team regained the lead..
NOTES: C Al Horford was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday on his torn right pectoral and will miss the rest of the season, including the playoffs. With Horford out, veteran Elton Brand is starting at center. … With F DeMarre Carroll missing his second straight game with a right thumb sprain, F Mike Scott made his first start of the season, the second of his career, for the Hawks. The two missing Atlanta starters were averaging a combined 27.6 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. … Celtics G Rajon Rondo, making his way back from knee surgery, could spend some time with Maine Red Claws of the Development League. “It’s more to get his wind back than anything,” coach Brad Stevens said of the possible move. … The Celtics, who play six of their next seven games on the road, visit the Chicago Bulls Thursday, while the Hawks host the Golden State Warriors Friday night.