ATLANTA — While the Celtics again blew a sizable lead Tuesday night, swingman Evan Turner believed Atlanta's strong second-half defense may have been too physical.
Turner was annoyed at a couple of calls in particular, including one in the third quarter when he and Kyle Korver chased for a loose ball and Turner was called for causing Korver to fall. Turner was assigned to the 3-point specialist most of the night and it was a frustrating experience.
Korver burned the Celtics again, scoring 24 points on 6-for-7 shooting from long distance and added 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Korver committed no fouls in 37:29, something not lost on Turner following the 109-105 loss.
"They started pressuring and it's tough to score when you have two hands inside your jersey as well," he said. "At the same time, I got a foul call on Korver and they said I pushed him and tripped him and he just fell. He can't guard to save his life and he's grabbing Marcus Thornton and he's grabbing me and he has no business being in the game on the defensive end but what can you possibly do if they're allowed to have their hands on you?"
The Celtics were whistled for 20 personal fouls to Atlanta's 14 and despite increasing their defensive intensity in the second half, the Hawks were called for just seven personals.
"It got physical, Thornton got hit a couple of times and you really have to be tough with the ball," he said. "But take your hat off to the Atlanta Hawks. They played a great game."
The Celtics' late-game collapses prompted the team to meet Monday while gathering for a film session. The meeting, according to some players, allowed some of the team leaders to voice their opinions and to offer ways to become more cohesive.
"I think the biggest thing is obviously getting our leaders and our coach on track and the rest of us just fall in line," Turner said. "It's about the guys who are out there, who get the bulk of the minutes and what they see. It's all about building and being on track. I think shootaround went great. Communication is a big deal. It's a great step in the right direction.
"I feel like only a few guys' opinions matter, when it comes down to it. The biggest thing is the chiefs being happy. Once there's too many chiefs, there's more problems."
Veteran Gerald Wallace said before Tuesday's loss that he doesn't sense any dissension but players are frustrated.
"I think we're getting to the point where we're tired of losing the same way," Wallace said. "It seems like we play good for stretches in games. We're trying to find the answers to those lagging moments in games that we have. That was the main thing we are more concerned about. We're dropping out heads when teams get going.''
Atlanta's second-year guard Dennis Schroder was a major factor in Tuesday's win with 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in sparking Atlanta's second-half comeback. And it occurred against his idol, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.
Schroder, because of his quirky style and physical build, has been compared to Rondo since his days with the German national team.
Coincidently he met Rondo for the first time Monday at an Atlanta restaurant.
"How he talks to his players, leads the team and how he reads the court and every time somebody is open, he passes it to them," Schroder said of Rondo, who scored only 2 points but had 19 assists and 12 rebounds. "I try to do the same things. In Germany, everybody compared me to Rondo growing up. When I was on the court everybody said, 'you play like Rondo.' Then I tried to look him up and then I saw him. I try to compare myself to him.
"He's an amazing player. He's won a championship, an All-Star."
Talking a good game
Rondo acknowledged that a major concern for the Celtics has been a lack of communication on the defensive end. Good defensive teams are generally loud, with players screaming signals, yelling to warn about potential screens, or even opposing teams' plays.
Asked if the Celtics are talking enough on defense, Rondo said, "No, no we're not. It's a process. We have to continue to learn, we have to grow, but as much as I would like us to talk . . . the plays aren't hard [that] teams are running.
"It's pretty basic in the fourth quarter, what teams are running, if you've been playing it for the first three quarters. We know it's coming but our communication is still so far behind. It's allowing teams to get where they want on the floor offensively."
"We have to talk more, period," said the coach. "There's no question about that. We have a good group of guys and there's a lot of guys that are quiet by nature. I think one of the things that we have to do to get better is create more team loudness, if you will.
"All of a sudden overnight somebody's not going to turn into [Kevin] Garnett as far as how they talk. [But] we all know where we're supposed to be, and the more we can communicate, the better."
Comedian Chris Tucker was briefly in the Celtics locker room following the game. He talked briefly with Rondo and the two took a photo . . . Kelly Olynyk continues to struggle from the field (1 for 4) but notched a season-high seven assists in nearly 20 minutes . . . Korver now has 77 career 3-pointers against the Celtics, the second-most against any opponent. He has 80 against Charlotte.
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.