Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) is defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) in the second quarter in Game 5 Tuesday. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)
A promising night turned into a disaster for the Celtics.
Kent Bazemore keyed a 26-6 run in the first half to turn a 10-point Celtic lead into a 10-point Atlanta advantage. Then the Hawks caught fire in the third quarter, using an 18-1 run to blow Game 5 wide open en route to a 110-83 rout of the Celtics at Philips Arena Tuesday and a 3-2 series lead.
Isaiah Thomas had one of the worst nights in a Celtics uniform, going scoreless in the first half and finishing with just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting before leaving with what the team called a “mild” left ankle sprain with 10 minutes left in the game.
With Paul Millsap in check at 10 points, Mike Scott came off the bench to lead Atlanta with 17. Bazemore and Jeff Teague had 16 for the Hawks, who went 14-of-36 from 3-point range.
The Celtics started off nearly as cold in Game 5 as they did their last game in Atlanta. But unlike Game 2, they didn’t fall behind 21 in the first six minutes. They did open the game 2-for-10 but Marcus Smart continued his 3-point rhythm from Game 4, knocking down a pair of threes in the opening quarter. The two teams combined to miss 18 of their first 22 shots.
The Celtics used a three from Jae Crowder with 31.1 seconds left in the first quarter to reclaim the lead. Terry Rozier hit a circus bank shot on a drive to the basket to give Boston a 20-15 lead after one quarter.
Al Horford (0-for-8) and Paul Millsap (0-for-4) combined to miss their first 12 shots of the game before a layup by Millsap with six minutes left in the second quarter. The Celtics built a 29-19 lead on the ice cold shooting of the Hawks.
Then the game turned suddenly and dramatically on a 26-6 Hawks run, sparked by Bazemore, who drilled three 3-pointers in the surge. Mike Scott gave Atlanta a 32-30 lead on a turnaround with 3:40 left in the second quarter. The Celtics quickly regained the lead but the Hawks answered with 16 of the next 18 points for a 45-35 lead. The Hawks were not threatened the rest of the way and led 47-39 at the half.
Bazemore was 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep in the first half and single-handedly turned the momentum of the game for the Hawks. Atlanta was kept in the game by Boston relying too heavily on the three. They missed 14 of their 18 tries from beyond the arc.
Isaiah Thomas, as he was at Golden State on April 1, was scoreless in the first half, missing all four shots in 18 minutes. He missed a floater to start the second half. But his second floater of the half fell just over a minute later for his first basket. It started a 7-0 Boston run to cut the Atlanta lead to five, 53-48. The Celtics kept it within range at 66-57. Then the bottom fell out.
The Hawks exploded on an 18-1 run to open an 84-58 lead as the Celtics looked tired and discouraged on defense. The Hawks made five of their first 10 3-point attempts in the third to blow game open. The Celtics went on a field goal drought of over five minutes before a Crowder three with 48 seconds to go in the third.
Adding to Boston’s epically bad night was the sight of Thomas limping and heading directly to the locker room with just over 10 minutes left in the game. He landed awkwardly on his left foot on a drive to the lane, landing on his left foot and then turning the ankle.
The Celtics will try to regroup and extend the series to a seventh game when they play Game 6 Thursday back in Boston. The game is set for an 8 p.m. start at TD Garden.
For a compete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger
If there’s something they can carry into Game 6 Thursday, it’s the way Sullinger ran the floor and played hard on both ends, making it tough on Al Horford and Paul Millsap. He had 10 points and three rebounds on the night.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas
Hasn’t happened much this season but their leading scorer couldn’t carry the load in Game 5. Even before his ankle injury, Thomas struggled badly to get his shot and when he did, it was with no success.
VIDEO OF THE NIGHT