Strong Start Helps Hawks Soar Past Celtics 83-74, Lead Series 1-0

The Atlanta Hawks looked like they were ready to blow the visiting Boston Celtics out of Phillips Arena during the first quarter of their Playoff opener on Sunday, as they led their opponents by double-digits at the conclusion of the period. Although the Hawks never came close to their offensive output in the first 12 minutes of play for the rest of the contest; the cushion they built in the opening period would hold up for the rest of the game as they defeated Boston 83-74. The victory gives Atlanta a 1-0 lead in their best of seven series.

Josh Smith led the way for Atlanta as the forward racked up a double-double with a game high 22 points and 18 rebounds in the game. Kevin Garnett would both record double-doubles for the Celtics with each player putting up 20 points in the loss. Rondo’s great line-score for the game was off-set by his losing his temper with less than a minute left in the contest and Boston trailing by only four points with the score 78-74.

The controversy started when Boston forward Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Smith; Rondo thought that referee Marc Davis had blown the call and started screaming at the game official. Davis charged the Celtics All-Star point guard with a technical; which further enraged Rondo and he ended up making physical contact with the referee; as he bumped Davis chest-to-chest.

Rondo and Celtics bench boss Doc Rivers said after the game that the contact was purely accidental; never the less the guard was charged with a second technical and ejected from the game. If the Association’s front office believes that Rondo purposely bumped Davis with his chest the Boston point guard will be facing at least a one game suspension.

Atlanta opened up the game on fire offensively and held a 31-18 lead at the end of the first. The Hawks came back to earth during the second but they still held a 49-35 advantage as the game reached the half. Boston could never completely erase their deficit, as they had cut the Hawk’s lead top four points when Rondo was thrown out of the contest; and ending the Celtics momentum.

Smith scored 22 points, 18 boards, 4 assists and 1 block while Jeff Teague dropped 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Kirk Hinrich had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while Joe Johnson added 11 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Garnett knocked down 20 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block while Rondo had 20 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals, Paul Pierce scored 12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal while Avery Bradley chipped in 10 points and 2 rebounds.. Game two of the series will be on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

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