Atlanta – With all-star guard Rajon Rondo suspended and Ray Allen injured, the Boston Celtics handled the Atlanta Hawks nonetheless, beating them, 87-80, in Game 2 of their first round playoff series.
Celtics forward Paul Pierce rang up 36 points to assume the scoring burden for Boston, which trailed by 11 points in the second half. The series is now tied at 1-2 and shifts to Boston for Game 3.
Rondo, who was sidelined by suspension for bumping into a referee in Game 1, will return to the lineup. Allen, out with an ankle, could be back, too.
It did not help the Hawks that forward Josh Smith left the game with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter, when the game was in the balance. Smith had 16 points for Atlanta and Joe Johnson added 22.
“We got more into a half-court game, going against a set defense,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We just didn’t run enough in stretches. . . That fourth quarter particularly, we played half court predominantly. . . We just didn’t handled the pressure very well.”