Atlanta (13-26) at Boston (12-28)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Wed Jan 24, 2007
  • TV: TSN, FSNE
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mired in their longest losing streak in nearly seven years, the Boston Celtics may get some help to try and end their skid when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

Boston (12-28), which will try to avoid a ninth straight loss, could have both Wally Szczerbiak and Brian Scalabrine back. The Celtics haven’t had a losing streak this long since dropping 10 straight from March 20-April 7, 2000.

Szczerbiak’s possible return could give the injury-decimated Celtics a true scoring option. Szczerbiak, second on Boston averaging 16.9 points, has missed seven straight games with a right ankle sprain.

Scalabrine, a key reserve, missed six with a bruised right knee.

“They both looked good,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said on the team’s official Web site.

The Celtics, who have lost 15 of their last 17 games, have been without star Paul Pierce (left foot) for the last 16 games and lost improving guard Tony Allen (knee) for the season. Boston is 2-14 without Pierce, who leads the team with 26.6 points.

Boston played hard but fell short Monday in a 93-89 home loss to San Antonio. Trailing by 23 in the third quarter, the Celtics went on a 13-0 run late in the game and got within two with less than 10 seconds to play.

“When you get it down to five points with two minutes to go, it becomes a game within a game,” said guard Delonte West, who had a season-high 27 points Monday. “At that point, we made too many mistakes that cost us. That’s what a good team does - they made you pay.”

West, who averages 10.2 points per game, has played well since missing four with a back injury. He is averaging 21.6 points in his last three games.

Al Jefferson had 26 points and 14 rebounds and Ryan Gomes scored 20, a game after scoring a career-high 31 in a 115-110 overtime loss at Washington on Saturday.

Atlanta (13-26) has dropped three straight after winning three in a row earlier this month. One of the NBA’s worst offensive teams averaging 91.8 points per game, the Hawks were 1-for-9 from 3-point range in a 94-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

“This was a tough, ugly game,” leading scorer Joe Johnson said. “We never really got into a rhythm. It was tough for them, too, but they got in a stretch where they made a little run.”

The Hawks are averaging 82.0 points, and shooting 2-for-16 from beyond the arc in their last three games.

Johnson scored 29 points, but was 12-for-27 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range Tuesday. He is averaging 24.8 points this season.

Josh Smith scored 16 points in his first game since being fined $25,000 by the league Monday for making obscene gestures to the crowd during Saturday’s 104-85 loss at Charlotte.

Atlanta won 100-96 on Jan. 15 in its last meeting against Boston. The Hawks have won three of their last four games against the Celtics.

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Wednesday, Jan 24