For an eight-year center making $11 million a year, Dikembe Mutombo has been a disappointment for the Atlanta Hawks this season.
Perhaps he's changing his ways.
Mutombo scored 18 points and pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 99-85 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
"I really did play my best, and I was trying to do too much (beforehand)," said Mutombo, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in Orlando two games ago. "Today I told myself to come out and be calm and play the game like I used to -- maybe my game would come around."
The Hawks, who broke a four-game losing streak at Georgia Tech, had all five starters score in double figures for the first time this season. Alan Henderson scored 18, followed by Steve Smith with 17, LaPhonso Ellis with 14 and Mookie Blaylock with 12.
Blaylock also handed out a season-high 11 assists.
Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens has been trying to break his team out of its doldrums by running more, and it paid off against Boston. Atlanta outscored the Celtics 24-10 on fast-break points.
More importantly, Mutombo revived himself after four games this season with only one field goal and five others with only two.
"Yeah, we're coming back," sad Wilkens, whose team came in with four losses in its last five games. "We just have to be determined. We seem to be understanding more about what we want defensively, and we're getting back in sync again."
The Celtics, playing the third of a five-game road trip, had a game-high 19 points from Antoine Walker, the NBA's sixth-leading scorer. Walker scored 14 of those points before 7:33 of the second quarter.
Boston, which trailed the entire game, has lost four straight on the road.
"I don't think any of our starters are putting out a primary goal in their life," said Celtics coach Rick Pitino. "I think if they had 100 goals, it wouldn't be to make the all-defensive team. And that's what's stopping us from winning."
Boston trailed by as much as 16 in the fourth quarter until Ron Mercer twice brought the Celtics within nine. They did not get any closer.
"They've got a big lineup -- 6-9 guys and Mutombo -- and it's their concept to get rebounds and penetration to the basket," said Mercer, who had 18 points. "Mutombo changes a lot of shots as well."
- Though they combined for 184 points, neither team scored a 3-pointer -- the first time this season for the Hawks and the second straight game for Boston.
- Celtics coach Rick Pitino dressed only 10 players. Forward Paul Pierce, who leads all rookies in scoring with 20.4 points per game, is still nursing a sprained ankle from a loss Sunday at Charlotte.
- Popeye Jones started in place of Pierce, but did not take a shot in his last 11 minutes.
- Boston is 15-37 away from the Fleet Center the last two seasons.
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