Tagged in: atlanta

Stafford, Rams hold off Falcons for 31-27 victory

Jalen Ramsey was calm and collected, even in the maelstrom of the fourth quarter that saw the Atlanta Falcons putting together a late rally versus the Los Angeles Rams.

While most of the 71,802 inside of SoFi Stadium were dreading the worst Sunday, the All-Pro cornerback knew he was going to be a deciding factor in the final minutes.

With the Falcons driving for a potential go-ahead touchdown, Ramsey picked off Marcus Mariota’s pass intended for Bryan Edwards in the end zone, permitting the Rams to hold on for a 31-27 victory.

“I told my teammates it was gonna come back to me and it did,” Ramsey said. “I just continued to focus and do my job. That was going through my mind because in the past we pressed to make those plays. And when you do that, it doesn’t end up well for you.”

The defending Super Bowl champions led the entire game. But they nearly blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead that would have given the young Falcons an unlikely comeback of their own from that infamous score — Atlanta’s lead in the 2017 Super Bowl before New England rallied to win — to celebrate.

Mariota had second-half touchdown passes to Drake London and Olamide Zaccheaus to bring the Falcons within 31-17. Special teams and defense then came through to give the veteran quarterback a final chance.

Troy Anderson blocked a punt that Lorenzo Carter returned 26 yards for a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion pass from Mariota to London brought the Falcons within 31-25 with 5:06 left. It was their first blocked punt TD since 1990.

Los Angeles turned it over on their ensuing drive when Darren Hall forced Kupp to fumble and recovered it at the Rams 37. Mariota got the Falcons to the Rams 24 before throwing the fateful interception.

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“That’s on me, I’ve got to do a better job of communicating that across the board,” said Mariota, who was 17 of 26 for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. “I think, kind of throughout the game I could have done a better job operationally and just communicating with the guys so that everybody’s on the same page.”

Los Angeles took a safety when returner Brandon Powell ran out of the end zone on punt formation after a three-and-out.

After the free kick, Atlanta took over at the Falcons 40, but Mariota was sacked before he could get a Hail Mary attempt off on the final play to ensure Atlanta’s fourth consecutive 0-2 start.

“There’s a lot of different, very uncharacteristic things, but they happened. And we still found a way,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We’re not going to run away from some of the things that we didn’t do well today. But we’re also going to allow ourselves to appreciate being able to come away with a win.”

Matthew Stafford threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns and Cooper Kupp had two TD catches for the Rams, who bounced back from a disappointing defeat versus the Buffalo Bills in their season opener.

Stafford completed his first 12 passes en route to going 27 of 36. Kupp had 11 catches for 108 yards and touchdowns on consecutive drives in the second and third quarters.

Kupp made an over-the-shoulder catch on a fade pattern on second-and-3 from Atlanta’s 3 late in the first half to give the Rams a 21-3 lead. The Super Bowl MVP’s first score came three plays after Rams rookie cornerback Cobie Durant picked off a pass bobbled by Cordarrelle Patterson and returned it 51 yards up the right sideline to the Falcons 9.

The Rams then took the second half kickoff and extended their lead by another touchdown when Kupp caught a quick pass and juked safety Jaylinn Hawkins for a 10-yard TD.

The Falcons were able to move the ball in the first half, but were done in by mistakes. The Rams scored their 21 points after a missed field goal by Younghoe Koo, turnover on downs near midfield and Mariota’s first interception.

“Obviously it wasn’t perfect and we need to break through, but one thing about our guys, no matter what has happened, we have a chance until the last play to win it,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Obviously we didn’t make enough plays, but the game playing gave us enough and the guys kept grinding out.”

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Seattle Seahawks star safety Jamal Adams expected to miss rest of NFL season

Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams is expected to miss the remainder of the NFL season after suffering an injury to his quadriceps tendon in the team’s opener, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Seahawks placed Adams on injured reserve on Thursday and signed defensive back Teez Tabor off the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad to take his place on their 53-man roster.

Adams and the Seahawks considered the three-time Pro Bowl selection was in for a bounce-back campaign after a disappointing 2021 season in which he was held without a sack in 12 games. But any chance of that ended in the second quarter of Seattle’s 17-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night when Adams was carted off the field after he was hurt while blitzing former teammate Russell Wilson.

Coach Pete Carroll called it a “serious” injury postgame and said on his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM on Tuesday morning that Adams would “have to get some work on that,” though he stopped short of declaring then that Adams’ season was over.

NFL Network first reported Thursday that Adams would have season-ending surgery.

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Adams limped off the field in obvious pain, heavily favoring his left leg, after delivering pressure and a hit on Wilson that helped force a third-down incompletion. After being examined in the medical tent, he was helped onto an injury cart. Adams was visibly upset, at one point appearing to burst out in frustration, as he was driven into the locker room.

Carroll has said the injury is to Adams’ quadriceps tendon, which attaches the quad muscle to the top of the kneecap.

“The fact that he is such a heartthrob about the game of football, he loves playing and he just can’t deal with it right now about ‘how could this keep happening?'” Carroll stated on his radio show. “It was good he had his mom and dad in the locker room really during the game when he was in there to kind of help him through it and all that, but it was really tough. So I hope everybody sends the love to him.”

Adams had three tackles and defended a pass before his injury. Josh Jones replaced him for the rest of the game. Seattle also has Ryan Neal as a safety option. Neal made four starts in 2020 while Adams was sidelined by a groin injury.

Tabor, 26, played safety last season with the Chicago Bears under defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who’s now on Seattle’s defensive staff.

Adams missed only two games over his first three seasons with the New York Jets but then missed nine matches over his first two seasons with the Seahawks — four in 2020 and the final five last season after he suffered another torn shoulder labrum that required surgery.

Adams missed time early in training camp this summer after rebreaking the middle finger on his left hand, another injury he has dealt with in the past. He had finger surgeries in each of the past two offseasons.

Adams and the Seahawks were hoping that Seattle’s new defense — with its emphasis on split-safety looks — would put him in position for a bounce-back.

During his stellar debut season in Seattle in 2020, Adams set the NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 9.5, earning him his third straight Pro Bowl nod, despite playing through a shoulder labrum tear that season. But then came his zero-sack 2021 season, which ended after 12 games when he retore his left shoulder labrum.

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New Orleans Pelicans draft pick E.J. Liddell suffers torn ACL in right knee, out indefinitely

New Orleans Pelicans second-round pick E.J. Liddell suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during Monday’s summer league contest and will be out indefinitely.

Liddell went down in the third quarter of the game against the Atlanta Hawks when his right knee buckled underneath him. In two games in Las Vegas, Liddell averaged 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.

The Pelicans feared the worst as soon as the injury happened on Monday as he was carried off the court by teammates.

An MRI on Monday night in Las Vegas confirmed the injury.

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Liddell, who spent three years at Ohio State, had a first-round grade for the 2022 NBA draft from many draft experts including ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who had him as the No. 21 overall prospect. However, Liddell slid to the Pelicans at No. 41 overall.

Liddell was a third-team All-American during the 2021-22 college season while also being named to the All-Big Ten first team and All-Big Ten defensive team first team. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game in 32 games for Ohio State last year.

New Orleans has 15 guaranteed contracts on its roster after 14 carried over from 2021-22 and the team selected Dyson Daniels with the No. 8 pick in the draft.

The Pelicans could free up a space for a contract for Liddell or slot him into one of their two-way spots.

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Atlanta Hawks acquire guard Dejounte Murray from San Antonio Spurs for three first-round picks, Danilo Gallinari

The Atlanta Hawks are trading forward Danilo Gallinari and three first-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray.

The Hawks are sending a 2023 first-round pick via the Charlotte Hornets plus their own 2025 and 2027 first-round picks to the Spurs in the deal, sources told Wojnarowski. The deal also includes a pick swap in 2026, the sources said.

The 2025 and 2027 first-round picks are unprotected, a league source told ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The trade gives the Hawks a formidable backcourt with Murray joining All-NBA guard Trae Young. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Murray and Young will be the first pair of teammates in NBA history who each averaged 20 points and 8 assists per match in the previous season.

Murray took to Twitter later Wednesday to express his gratitude to the Spurs. Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said in May that the team wouldn’t repeat the “mistake” of complacency that he believes set the stage for this season’s disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs.

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The Hawks returned a young core from the team that was eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago.

Ressler stated he believed the team would improve just based on experience.

“We thought we’d be better this season,” Ressler said. “We plan to get better this offseason.”

Instead, the Hawks escaped the play-in tournament with the No. 8 seed before losing to the Miami Heat in five games in the opening round of the playoffs.

Murray, 25, averaged a career-best 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals last season, earning All-Star honors for the first time in his career. He had 13 triple-doubles, setting the single-season franchise record for the Spurs.

He is scheduled to make $16.6 million next season and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Gallinari, 33, averaged 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 66 matches last season, his second with the Hawks.

His $21.5 million salary for the 2022-23 season is partially guaranteed.

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Atlanta Braves’ Kenley Jansen put on IL with irregular heartbeat

The Atlanta Braves have placed closer Kenley Jansen on the 15-day injured list with an irregular heartbeat, the team informed Tuesday.

The move was made retroactive to Monday when Jansen felt discomfort, manager Brian Snitker said.

Jansen underwent corrective heart surgery — his second procedure — in November 2018 after a recurrence of an irregular heartbeat prompted him to be admitted into a Denver hospital in early August 2018.

He initially underwent a cardiac ablation in 2012, when abnormal tissue in the left atrium of his heart was cauterized in order to stop from generating abnormal electrical signals.

Jansen, 34, gave up two runs in the ninth to blow a 2-0 lead in an 11-inning, 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night. It was Jansen’s fourth blown save in 24 opportunities.

The right-hander, who signed a $16 million deal with the Braves in March after spending his first 12 MLB seasons with the Dodgers, is 4-0 with 20 saves this season. He has a 3.58 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

“He’s been unbelievable,” Snitker said. “Having him has allowed us to use our bullpen depth.”

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Will Smith or A.J. Minter could be called upon to close out matches in Jansen’s absence. They are a combined 2 for 7 in save opportunities this year.

“It’s another injury you have to deal with,” Snitker said. “You can never have enough pitching. We have guys down there who have closed a lot of ballgames.”

A three-time All-Star, Jansen is second among active pitchers with 370 career saves.

The Braves recalled Jesus Cruz to take Jansen’s place on the active roster.

Also Tuesday, Braves manager Brian Snitker stated outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has remained in Atlanta to receive treatment on his left foot but could rejoin the team in the next two days. Atlanta opened a series against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

Acuna fouled a ball off his left foot Saturday versus the Dodgers and did not play in the series finale the next day. Tests showed no fracture, but the star outfielder said he couldn’t put pressure on the foot.

In other moves, left-hander Tyler Matzek is set to start a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Augusta on Tuesday night, and right-hander Jay Jackson will continue his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett.

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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Atlanta Falcons, star DT Grady Jarrett reach three-year extension worth up to $51 million

The Atlanta Falcons are keeping one of their cornerstone defensive players around for the foreseeable future.

The club agreed to a three-year extension with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett on Tuesday that is worth up to $17 million per year in new money and $51 million in totality for the extension if he reaches certain incentives, a source confirmed to ESPN. The extension contains $34.5 million guaranteed.

Jarrett is now signed through the 2025 season at a total value of $67 million, including the money he was slated to earn in 2022.

The news of the terms of the deal was first reported by WSB-TV in Atlanta. The Falcons confirmed that Jarrett agreed to a three-year extension but did not disclose financial terms. Jarrett — who celebrated his 29th birthday Thursday, the first day of the NFL draft — was a fifth-round pick by the Falcons in 2015 out of Clemson.

The player from Conyers, Georgia, became a starter for Atlanta in his second season, in 2016. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020 and has started every game he has played in for Atlanta since the start of that 2016 season.

In all, he has played in 110 games — starting 95 of them — with 359 tackles, 26.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.

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Jarrett, the son of former Falcons linebacker Jessie Tuggle, moved around a bit from defensive tackle to defensive end in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ 3-4 scheme last season in an attempt to create even better matchups.

Jarrett (6 feet, 305 pounds) became the focal point of opposing offensive lines, sometimes facing triple-teams as he tried to work off of blocks.

“Based on the way Grady plays and his reputation, I think people will account for him in protection,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “We also move him around a little bit too, but yeah, I mean, if you’re playing us, you’re certainly going to account for him in your protection schemes.”

With Jarrett staying, he will become one of the key leaders for the Falcons as they transition most of their roster.

He’s the second Falcons player to receive a long-term extension this offseason, joining left tackle Jake Matthews. The team also traded quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts and in the past 12 months traded wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans and had receiver Calvin Ridley suspended for at least one year for gambling.

Atlanta is in the middle of restructuring its front seven as well, with Jarrett as the centerpiece. Linebacker Foye Oluokun signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, and the Falcons signed Rashaan Evans to potentially replace him.

The team has brought in three new edge rushers — signing Lorenzo Carter and drafting Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone — to try to lighten some of the attention opposing teams give to Jarrett every down. Atlanta also signed defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, potentially to offer Jarrett more help on the interior.

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Heat hold off Hawks 97-94, reach Eastern semifinals

If one play could tell the story of a five-game series, consider this one: Trae Young’s final shot from the field was a corner 3-point try that he rushed because he knew a defender was coming his way.

The shot bounced off the side of the backboard.

Take a bow, Miami. Even without Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, defense carried the day — and carried the Heat into the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Victor Oladipo scored 23 points, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Heat moved into Round 2 of the playoffs by eliminating Young and the Atlanta Hawks 97-94 on Tuesday night.

“The biggest thing about this game was our defense,” Adebayo said. That was, and is, Miami’s plan. The Heat swarmed Young from the start of Game 1 to the end of Game 5, holding Atlanta’s high-octane scorer to a 15.4-point average in the series on 32% shooting. Young had as many assists as he had turnovers — 30 of each.

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“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said. “Their team is more of a system than who they have on their team. No matter who they have out there, they can play. … And when they’ve got a guy that they’re targeting and trying to take away, they do a really good job of doing that.”

Tyler Herro scored 16, Max Strus scored 15 and Caleb Martin added 10 for the top-seeded Heat, who got the clincher with Butler and Lowry sitting out with injuries.

Young went 2 for 12 from the floor, scoring just 11 points. De’Andre Hunter scored 35 for Atlanta, which got 12 apiece from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari.

“Obviously, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” Young stated.

Hunter fouled out with 41.6 seconds left, Miami clinging to a three-point lead at the time. The Hawks got a stop, taking over with 29.2 seconds remaining, and retained possession after a missed shot from Gallinari went out of bounds off Miami.

The Hawks never got another shot off, time expired and Miami moved on.

“They are a hell of a team,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Those guys compete every second that they’re out on the floor and I have a great deal of respect for how they play.”

Onyeka Okongwu’s three-point play got Atlanta within 79-76 early in the fourth, the Hawks clawing back after being down by as many as 15.

But Herro hit a high-arcing jumper from the lane, Miami got a stop, and Oladipo hit a left-wing 3 on the next Heat possession to push the lead back to eight with 7:29 left. That’s how the final minutes went: Atlanta made a charge, Miami would hold it off, all the way to the end.

And now, the Heat get nearly a week off before facing either Philadelphia or Toronto in the East semis. Game 1 will be Monday in Miami.

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Young, Hunter lead Hawks to 132-103 play-in rout of Hornets

For one night, at least, the Atlanta Hawks looked like the team that made a stunning run to the Eastern Conference final last summer.

Trae Young bounced back from a sluggish start to score 24 points and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge Wednesday that carried the Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in a play-in game.

“We’re definitely confident right now,” Hunter said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re not satisfied yet.”

The Hawks were a bit of a disappointment during the regular season, concluding ninth in the East after their surprising playoff success in 2021.

They’ve still got to win one more play-in game just to make the playoffs, heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night. The winner claims the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.

The season is over for the Hornets, who were overwhelmed in the 9-10 play-in game for the second year in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.

Still, coach James Borrego called it another step forward for a rebuilding team. “A lot of good things have happened for this franchise based on where we’re at today compared to where we were two or three years ago,” he stated.

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Miles Bridges was ejected in the fourth quarter and could be facing additional punishment from the league office after he appeared to strike a young fan with his mouthpiece.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. 

It was Hunter who came up big in the decisive third period, bursting out with 16 points after being held to 3 in the first half.

“I think I’m a big part of this team,” Hunter said. ”Me being aggressive, scoring and defending, helps this team a lot.”

Hunter ended with 22 points, while Danilo Gallinari added 18 and Clint Capela 15. Kevin Huerter and Bogdanovic chipped in with 13 apiece.

The Hornets closed the regular season strong and felt like they had a good opportunity to win a couple of play-in games on the road. But those hopes came crashing down versus their I-85 rival.

LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting.

The Hawks led by 13 in the first half before settling for a 60-52 advantage at the break. Charlotte had a bit of momentum in the closing minutes of the half, but it sure didn’t carry over to the third.

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 during that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.

With the Hornets doubling at every opportunity, Young made only 1 of 9 shots in the opening quarter and 3 of 13 in the first half.

But his teammates found plenty of open looks and made the Hornets pay dearly.

“It’s great for my team,'” said Young, who had 11 assists. “If you can make two guys guard you, it only opens up the floor for everybody else. I have to embrace it.”

Charlotte should’ve known what kind of night it would be on their way to State Farm Arena.

The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight train that stopped on a crossing near the downtown sports complex. The bus had to turn around and take a different route to the arena, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups. It didn’t get much better once the game tipped off.

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Tatum scores 33 to help Celtics push past Hawks 107-98

Jayson Tatum had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help the Boston Celtics rally in the second half and beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-98 on Tuesday night.

Derrick White and Grant Williams each added 18 points off the bench. Marcus Smart concluded with 16 points and four assists.

Boston has won 10 of its last 12 and three of four since the All-Star break.

The Celtics played the final three quarters without starter Jaylen Brown, who left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury. Being able to recover from Brown’s injury taught the team a lot, Smart stated.

“It just shows, that if we continue to come out like this, this is the team that we are. This is the identity that we have. It’s going to be hard for teams,” he said.

Trae Young had 31 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 25 for the Hawks, who have lost two of three.

“They came out aggressive, ready to attack and I thought we got back on our heels,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We just settled for the long ball. We didn’t attack.”

Atlanta led by as many as 17 points in the first half before that cushion evaporated in a 14-0 run by Boston to open the third quarter.

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The Hawks shot selection didn’t help, going 7 of 31 from 3-point range in the game.

“I think we kind of bailed them out and let them off the hook taking some shots and obviously not attacking like we did in the first half,” Young said.

The Celtics seized on it and kept their momentum going, outscoring the Hawks 31-13 in the period to take a 82-78 edge in the fourth.

The surge was keyed by Boston’s defense, which held Young to just nine points after halftime. The increased intensity was a response to a plea by coach Ime Udoka at halftime for his team to be more physical.

“It’s part of us. It’s part of me. It’s something that when we’re being physical, it helps us on the defensive end. But also on the offensive end,” Smart said.

Boston’s lead grew to 102-88 with 3:11 left in the game following back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams. Both baskets were set up by defensive plays by Smart. First, he chased down De’Andre Hunter on a fast break and came up with a block from behind. Then, he stepped in front of an errant pass by Bogdanovic to start another Celtics’ sprint out.

The plays were examples of how they want to play, Smart said.

The Celtics entered the game at full strength for the first time in weeks, but that changed in the first quarter when Brown left with a right ankle sprain after taking an awkward fall during a drive into the lane.

He grabbed at his right leg as he toppled to the ground, but was able to walk to the locker room on his own power. Udoka stated he was able to move around on the ankle in the locker room, but he is day to day.

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