|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics ground Hawks in overtime||03.08.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
The over-35 crew of Paul Pierce (27 points), Jason Terry (19) and Kevin Garnett (17) combined for 63 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists, leading the Celtics to their fifth straight win — 107-102 over the Hawks in overtime — and helped the C’s keep pace with the Bulls in the Eastern Conference seeding race.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Piercing hot: In the first quarter, Pierce made his first four buckets, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points in the opening 12 minutes. Of course, he missed his easiest shot of the frame — a layup as time expired — but his shooting set the tone for the C’s 28-point quarter. Garnett and Avery Bradley also started a combined 4-of-6.
And more Pierce: The captain dropped back-to-back 18-foot jumpers late in the fourth quarter to keep pace with a furious Atlanta comeback. In overtime, he drained a 27-footer with a hand in his face to regain the lead with 1:37 remaining. And he assisted on Terry’s 3 that gave the C’s a 105-102 lead a minute later. Basically, he did it all.
Board to death: The Hawks started big against the Celtics with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Johan Petro in the frontcourt. While Horford and Smith combined for 20 points, 9 rebounds and six assists in the first half, the Celtics owned a 19-16 rebounding edge, didn’t allow a single second-chance point and took a 52-47 lead into halftime. That margin got flipped on its heels in the second half, when the Hawks made their comeback, and the Hawks star tandem totaled 54 points, 21 boards and 14 assists to give Atlanta a 41-35 rebounding edge.
KG being KG: Regardless of which lineup Celtics coach Doc Rivers pieced around Garnett, the C’s center made the most of his 35 minutes. He started 7-of-11 from the field — including a 3 in a second straight game that even got him excited — to go along with his eight boards and two dimes. When the Hawks cut the lead to two starting the fourth quarter, Garnett seemingly had a hand in every play, including a beautiful assist to a cutting Courtney Lee and a driving baby hook over Horford that pushed the lead back to 12.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Fa-Teague: Just 24 seconds after Jordan Crawford checked into the game, Jeff Teague drained a wide open 3-pointer. The Hawks guard totaled 12 points and five assists in the first half, and that didn’t even reflect the number of open looks he had — a big reason Atlanta only trailed by five at the half despite the C’s 59 percent shooting.
Sloppy sets: The Celtics committed nine first-half turnovers, but they fumbled about twice as many passes, which left them struggling to get into an offensive rhythm during stretches. Luckily, the Hawks scored just seven points off those errors and their porous defense more than made up for the butterfingers the C’s must’ve eaten pregame.
Green with envy: After scoring the game-winner against the Pacers on Wednesday and deservedly receiving heaps of praise for his recent play, Jeff Green didn’t pack the aggressive punch he’s so often displayed the past two months. The athletic forward started just 2-of-7 and grabbed only two rebounds in 19 minutes through three quarters. A fourth-quarter reverse dunk and overtime triple helped make up for an otherwise off night for Green.
Too comfortable: A Terry jumper pushed the Celtics lead to 90-81 with 4:28 remaining, but a Kyle Korver 3 capped an 11-2 Hawks run over the next three minutes that tied the game at 92-92. After trading buckets, Smith gifted the C’s a chance to end the game with the shot clock off, but Kevin Garnett missed a jump shot and left 1.8 seconds remaining. Thankfully, Smith bricked his game-winning attempt, too, and thus the extra period.
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