Paul Pierce racked up a double-double as he knocked down a game high 36 points while the Boston Celtics displayed some of their strongest defense this year in the fourth quarter, as they took game two of their opening Playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena Tuesday night by a final score of 87-80. The victory for the Celtics takes away the home-court advantage the Hawks had captured during the regular season; with the series heading to Boston for the next two games.
Boston won the contest despite playing without starters Ray Allen, who has yet to play in the Post Season due to an ankle sprain and Rajon Rondo who served a one game suspension for bumping referee Marc Davis in the first game of the match-up. The Celtics went with a big starting lineup with Avery Bradley the only guard on the floor; as Mickael Pietrus joined Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass on the court to start the game.
All-Star guard Joe Johnson led the way for Atlanta as he scored 22 points in the loss. The Hawks dominated the inside game scoring 42 points in the paint to only 26 points for the visitors. However Atlanta shot an anemic 34.9% (29-83) from the floor which was not enough to win their second game on their home floor.
Although the home team led for most of the first three-quarters of action; the two clubs remained close through most of the game. Atlanta briefly extended their advantage to ten points in the third; however the Celtics were back in the contest by the end of the quarter trailing 66-61. Boston would clamp down defensively on their opponents in the final 12 minutes of play, allowing the Hawks only 14 points in the period and the Celtics would steal the game they needed before heading back home.
Pierce knocked down 36 points, grabbed 14 boards and had 4 assists in the Celtics victory. Garnett also recorded a double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and a block while Bradley scored 14 points, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals and 2 rebounds.
Johnson knocked down 22 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Jeff Teague had 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block while Josh Smith notched a double-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. The series resumes in Boston on Friday.