|Fast Break: Celtics win 12th straight||12.16.10 at 10:42 pm ET|
If you were expecting a letdown by the Celtics after a thrilling last-second victory against the Knicks in New York on Wednesday night — followed by the news that Rajon Rondo would miss the next two weeks — guess again.
The Celtics had six players score in double figures — including Semih Erden — as they stretched their NBA-best winning streak to 12 games by disposing of the Hawks, 102-90, at the Garden on Thursday night.
Kevin Garnett anchored the effort with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Ray Allen and Glen Davis tied for the team lead with 18 points apiece.
Paul Pierce (15), Nate Robinson (14) and Erden (10) also reached double figures for the Celtics, who improved their Eastern Conference-leading record to 21-4.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Another KG double-double: Midway through the third quarter, Garnett had already notched his 14th double-double of the season. He entered the game tied with Amar’e Stoudemire for ninth in the NBA for double-doubles.
Garnett finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds on the night. On the other end, Garnett limited Josh Smith — who is a very, very good NBA player — to just one point and four rebounds. All in all, not a bad night for Garnett.
Pierce & Allen assist: With Rondo sitting out the first of what is expected to be at least two weeks of games, somebody had to make up for his 14 assists a night. Pierce and Allen exceeded that number.
They entered the game averaging a combined 5.8 assists between them. Against the Hawks, Pierce doled out nine dimes and Allen contributed another six. Not to mention their combined 33 points.
Semih-automatic: Say what you will about Semih Erden, but he finishes around the rim. It’s his soft hands. Thursday night’s starting center finished with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting — all within five feet of the basket.
His solid night even included a dunk over Smith, who is one of the top six shot blockers in the league. Still, Erden could work on his rebounding (he had zero as a 7-footer) and free-throw shooting (0-for-2).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Defending the point: The Hawks’ point guards — starter Mike Bibby and backup Jeff Teague — combined for 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds against Nate Robinson.
Meanwhile, Avery Bradley actually looked pretty sharp defensively in just four minutes on the floor. Offensively? Bradley was absent, and Robinson finished with 14 points (on 6-of-16 shooting) and four assists.
Cleaning the glass: Somehow, with Smith and Al Horford combining for just 11 rebounds (they average 18 between them), the Celtics still got out-rebounded by the Hawks, 37-34.
Atlanta also snatched 10 offensive rebounds (an ongoing issue for the C’s). Of course, it helps to shoot better than 50 percent — which the Celtics did … once again (53%).
All-Star absentees: First, it was Kevin Durant. Then, it was John Wall. Then, it was Carmelo Anthony. And Thursday it was former Celtics guard Joe Johnson. The list of NBA stars who have been relegated to the bench with injuries when they visited the Garden this season grew by two.
Johnson and 2010 Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford both sat out against the Celtics. On the Boston side, of course, Rondo and Shaquille O’Neal were in street clothes as well.
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