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Jeff Teague has been waiting for the Atlanta Hawks to break out of their slump.
They finally got a full effort for an entire game.
"We had some hard practices," Teague said. "We preached in the film session playing harder, competing. We did that tonight. We have to make guys fear us. We have to be more aggressive on the defensive end and we did that."
Paul Millsap scored 25 points, Teague added 16 and the Hawks beat the Boston Celtics 121-97 on Tuesday night.
Atlanta had dropped four of five and was coming off a loss Saturday at Cleveland in which coach Mike Budenholzer was ejected and subsequently fined $25,000 for bumping into referee Ben Taylor.
The Hawks essentially put the game out of reach with an 18-3 run that made it 100-80 with 6:20 remaining on Teague's three-point play.
"I think that was a little closer to what we want to be and how we want to play on both ends of the court," Budenholzer said. "The competitive spirit was closer to where we need it to be."
Avery Bradley had 15 of his 25 points in the first half for Boston, which has dropped three of four. Isaiah Thomas scored 14 points as the Celtics, who began the game ranked ninth in opponent scoring, allowed a season high in points.
Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha and Mike Scott each finished with 15 points as the Hawks never trailed after early minutes of the first quarter.
Atlanta shot 56.3 percent from the field, a season high for the Hawks and a Boston opponent.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens wasn't surprised at how poorly his team performed.
"We had this coming," he said. "We haven't played well in a few days now. We've got to reconnect as a group. I think we did a lot of things on an island. When your defense is a sieve, you're not a team. The best way we will be able to recognize it is if we guard somebody for once."
Celtics: Rookie G R.J. Hunter, who starred one mile down the street at Georgia State, scored a career-high 12 points in his Atlanta pro debut. ... Celtics G Marcus Smart, who was out three games earlier this month with a sprained left toe, missed his second straight game with a lower left leg injury. He's expected to be out the next two weeks.
Hawks: G Kent Bazemore missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... C Tiago Splitter was out with a sore right hip. ... Teague had nine of his team's 33 assists. The Hawks rank second in the league in assists per game. Their season high is 37.
FROM THE RAFTERS
The Hawks retired Dikembe Mutombo's No. 55 jersey to honor the longtime shot blocker's Hall of Fame enshrinement. Mutombo signed as a free agent in 1996 to make Atlanta the second stop on an 18-year career he spent with five other teams. He is the fourth player with a retired jersey, joining Bob Pettit, Lou Hudson and Dominique Wilkins. Former owner Ted Turner also has a banner hanging at Philips Arena.
WELCOME BACK, SORT OF
It took 16 games, but Tim Hardaway Jr. finally made his Hawks debut and scored three points. He was the fifth player off the bench, as Justin Holiday got the night off until the last 3 minutes. Atlanta acquired Hardaway from New York for a first-round pick on draft night, but he's struggled to impress Budenholzer in practice.
Celtics: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Hawks: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday.
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