Rondo, Pierce help Celtics rally past Hawks

After listening to Doc Rivers lecture the Boston Celtics at

halftime, Paul Pierce told his teammates to respect their coach and

follow orders.

”We were kind of bickering at each other a little bit too much,

figuring out what defense we were going to run,” Pierce said.

”And I just had to say that the fight ain’t with one another. It’s

against the other team on the court.”

The Celtics responded in the second half, with Rajon Rondo

finishing off a triple double as Boston rallied for an 89-81

victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Pierce scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter as the

Celtics erased a 19-point deficit and went on to consecutive wins

for the first time since late November against Oklahoma City and

Orlando. Rondo had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Boston, which beat Indiana 94-75 on Friday night, had lost four

straight road games.

Rivers insisted that despite the first-half struggles against

the Hawks, the game plan would not change.

”I was like, `This ain’t it, don’t get mad at Doc, he’s

coaching,”’ Pierce said. ”We’ve got to get mad at this other

team.”

Lou Williams scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half for

Atlanta, which has lost two straight. Jeff Teague added 17 points,

and Josh Smith, who was 2 for 12 in the second half, finished with

12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hawks got off to a fast start, then fell apart in the third

quarter as Boston began doubling ballhandlers on the perimeter and

clamping down on Atlanta inside.

”They just climbed up in us defensively,” Teague said. ”They

got physical and they brought pressure and got us out of our

comfort zone. We just didn’t respond.”

The Celtics trailed by 19 with 6:20 left in the second, but went

up 61-60 on Jared Sullinger’s alley-oop layup with 3:47 left in the

third. It was their first lead since the game’s first minute.

Boston opened the third with a 14-1 run to pull within one.

Hawks coach Larry Drew, whose team missed its first five shots from

the field to begin the second half, called timeout at the 7:29

mark, but Teague lost the ball out of the bounds on the ensuing

possession.

Atlanta, which had 13 turnovers and three assists in the second

half, was just 2 for 14 from the field in the third and trailed

71-62 heading to the final period.

Kevin Garnett’s fast-break layup with 8:53 remaining gave the

Celtics their first double-digit lead at 79-68. Garnett finished

with 14 points.

”The second half was completely different,” Rivers said. ”We

worked the set. The first play went from one side to the other on

offense. On defense they were late in the shot clock because Avery

(Bradley) and Rondo both were up ball pressuring. And it changed

the game for us.”

Williams had outscored the Celtics 13-10 by the 5:47 mark of the

first, connecting on his first seven shots from the field. His 16th

point came on a layup for Atlanta’s first double-digit lead at

23-12 late in the first.

But the Hawks could not overcome the absence of injured shooting

guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. Kyle Korver then fouled out

with 6:37 remaining, and DeShawn Stevenson played only 13 minutes

because of sore knees.

Drew called it ”probably the most disappointing loss of the

season” considering the Hawks have gone soft with big leads all

season and backed down from the team that eliminated them in the

first round of the playoffs last season.

”We’ve seen this kind of scenario before where we’ve played

well and then when it starts to get more physical, we don’t

respond,” Drew said. ”That was clearly what happened

tonight.”

Jason Terry, in his first season with Boston and 13th overall,

credited Pierce with backing up Rivers and straightening out the

team’s collective attitude.

”We took the challenge,” Terry said. ”We took it personal.

You come in at halftime, and Lou Williams has 21 points, primarily

all easy baskets. He was just letting them fly. So we wanted to

invade his space. As we did that, we started to get more and more

stops.

”Paul Pierce got it rolling. He really made his imprint on the

game.”

NOTES: Korver fouled out for the first time in 27 games this

season and finished with nine points. … Atlanta scored 31 points

in the first quarter, tying for the highest by a Boston opponent

and the most since the Celtics opened the season Oct. 30 at Miami.

… The Hawks’ nine points in the third were a season low by a

Boston opponent. … Harris missed his ninth straight game with a

sore left foot. … Morrow was sidelined for the fifth straight

game because of a strained right hip.