NBA

Celtics return home after road split to face Hawks

BOSTON -- After avoiding what would have been a fourth three-game losing streak on Sunday in Detroit, the Boston Celtics aim for their seventh straight home victory with the Atlanta Hawks in town on Monday night.

The Celtics (38-21) blew a 17-point lead and lost at Toronto in their first game back from the All-Star break on Friday night, then failed to hold a 15-point advantage (because of turnovers) against the Pistons before winning Sunday.

"It was a back-and-forth, tough game," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after his team's 12th victory in the last 15 games. "They made big plays. It's a hard team for us to play against."

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Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points -- his 43rd straight 20 point game -- and Jae Crowder added 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the victory.

Rookie Jaylen Brown, not known for his outside shot, nailed a big 3-pointer that actually triggered a five-point possession with the team down one with 37.6 seconds left.

"I've worked on my shot because that's what people have been critiquing me on my whole life," said Brown, who finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals. "And I think I've gotten better at it."

The Hawks have lost three in a row and four of their last five to fall to 32-26. They lost by 19 at Orlando on Saturday night.

Atlanta is 10-10 in its last 20 games and 23-24 after opening the season on a 9-2 run.

"We don't want to be a .500 team," coach Mike Budenholzer said Saturday night. "You have to go out on the court and execute on both ends of the court. At the end of the day, if it's 20 games and we are .500 we have to be honest with ourselves and find ways to improve whether it be small things or big things."

Hawks guard Dennis Schroder said, "First off, we have to get together with the team. We are not there. Everybody has to be together. We have to play together as a team. We are going to see."

Schroder didn't start Saturday night's game after showing up late for the team bus. He entered the game after 7:03.

The last time the Celtics and Hawks met, Thomas won the game with a jumper with two seconds left and Schroder later accused Thomas of saying bad things about his mother -- a charge Thomas denied. Monday night is the second of three games in the regular season between the teams. The Hawks knocked the Celtics out of last year's playoffs in the first round.

That first meeting marked the first game for Boston's Al Horford against his former team and he was upset when the Atlanta crowd booed him.

In the last three games, Horford, who signed a huge free agent deal with the Celtics during the summer, has scored just 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, going 8 of 26 from the floor.

On Sunday, the Hawks waived bench player Lamar Patterson, who was allowed to leave the team to attend to a personal matter. He signed two 10-day contracts earlier this season and recently signed a two-year deal.

On Sunday night, the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics benefited from the Pistons going just 16 of 35 from the foul line. On Monday night, they face a team that is 38 of 62 from the line in the last two games.

Boston, which hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, has been without Avery Bradley for 22 of the last 23 games because of an Achilles strain. But he is getting close.

"Avery's going to go through his stuff today, and I think we're any day now," Stevens said before Sunday's game. "He will not play tonight, but, yeah, we're excited about Avery's progress."