Despite a super-efficient 35 points from Paul Pierce, Atlanta completed a dominant four-game sweep of its season series with Boston.
The devastating duo of Jamal Crawford (28 points, 6 assists) and Joe Johnson (27 points) helped Atlanta dust off the brooms and keep Boston at bay. The two Hawks seemed to hit every big shot, breaking Boston’s back again and again with timely buckets.
The Celtics, who got off to an early 9-point lead, quickly coughed up the cushion and let the Hawks dictate the pace of the game. At halftime, the young and athletic Hawks had 25 fast-break points; Boston had only 3.
Pierce led a spirited Boston comeback from a 12-point halftime deficit, but the Celtics could not ride the momentum to victory.
The Celtics were again let down by their bench, which scored only 14 points and was outscored by their Atlanta counterparts 44-14. No Celtic reserve to play more than 10 minutes had a better plus/minus than Rasheed Wallace’s -13.
Boston gets another chance to register a big win Sunday, when the Los Angeles Lakers travel to the northeast for the teams’ first meeting of the season.