The Atlanta Hawks just simply were not going to accept a loss to close out 2013. After overcoming an 18-point deficit in the second quarter and then another seven-point hole about halfway through the final period, the current three-seed in the Eastern Conference found a way to edge the Boston Celtics by a final score of 92-91, sending the faithful at the TD Garden home to ring in the new year with a sour taste in their mouths.
Hawks power forward Paul Millsap played like a man possessed on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old finished the contest with a season-high 34 points after shooting 12-of-19 from the field and connecting on 10-of-14 free-throw attempts. In addition to his scoring numbers, Millsap grabbed 15 boards, recorded two steals and blocked a couple of shots. All in all, this was his best overall game of the season to this point.
The Atlanta backcourt, comprised of veteran swingman Kyle Korver and energetic point guard Jeff Teague, provided the majority of support for Millsap. Though the sharpshooting Korver made just one shot from downtown, he still managed to pick up 14 points and five assists along the way. Meanwhile, Teague put up a solid line of his own that included 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
With two-time All-Star Al Horford now unfortunately done for the season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle, the Hawks have their work cut out for them going forward. A talent such as Horford is virtually impossible to replace mid-season. However, if the trio of Millsap, Korver and Teague can consistently put forth this level of combined effort, Atlanta fans will still have plenty to cheer for over the first few months of 2014.