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Hawks stage 30-point comeback to stun Celtics

LOS ANGELES – The Atlanta Hawks produced a comeback for the ages to overturn a 30-point deficit and defeat the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics, 120-118, on Monday (Tuesday Manila time).

The Celtics, who were confirmed as having clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed earlier on Monday, appeared to be cruising toward a resounding win after outscoring Atlanta 44-22 in the first quarter.

The Celtics raced into a 30-point advantage midway through the second quarter before Atlanta woke up and began chipping into the Boston lead.

The Hawks kept the rally going into the second half, narrowing the gap further with a 34-22 third quarter before harnessing that momentum into the fourth quarter to complete a dramatic win.

De'Andre Hunter led the Hawks scoring with 24 points, including a decisive 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining that gave Atlanta a four-point cushion and effectively made the game safe.

Hunter was backed with 22 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic while Dejounte Murray finished with 19 points, 15 assists and five rebounds.

Hawks coach Quin Snyder praised the unrelenting support of the Atlanta home crowd in helping drive his team to a remarkable victory.

"Tonight the way we started the game, and the way Boston started, their energy really gave us a lift," Snyder said of the Atlanta fans.

"Anytime you're down that much you have to have something out of the ordinary a little bit to get back in the game.

"And when you have a group of people you know who are behind you thick or thin, rain or shine — and there was a lot of rain early — they were a big part of helping the sun come out tonight."

Atlanta improved to 32-39 and remains in 10th place in the East, on course for a spot in the play-in tournament.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said his team paid the price for not killing the game off, adding that Atlanta's physicality had caused his team problems in the second half.

"It's a good lesson," Mazzulla said. "Credit to them for battling back.

"I thought their physicality — they were extremely physical as soon as the ball got past half court. I thought that messed up our offense, and they made us work for everything."

Celtics star Jayson Tatum had no excuses