Celtics suffocate Hawks 89-81, behind Rondo's triple double and Pierce's big night

If the Boston Celtics do in fact go on to great things this season, tonight's game in Atlanta will featured prominently on the team's Championship DVD. They fell down early, fought their asses off to get back into the game, and suffocated the Hawks, holding them to an incredible 28 second half points. The Celtics pulled out the 89-81 victory, despite falling down by as many as nineteen points late in the 2nd quarter. They were led by Paul Pierce's all-around phenomenal effort (26 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists) and Rajon Rondo's 2nd triple double of the season (14 points, 11 boards and 10 dimes).

Of course the Green must find away to reach this level on a more consistent basis (they've yet to win more than three straight games this season), but the past two games will hopefully quiet down those who think it's time to break up the core. It's not folks. Long way to go, but the past two games are a hell of a start. Here's how it all went down.

The defensive momentum the Celtics built up during their thrashing of Indiana a night before did not carry over early in this one. Atlanta scored 32 points in the first twelve minutes tonight. The main culprit - Lou fuckin' Williams. Williams shredded the Green with 16 points in the opening quarter alone. The dominant exterior defense the C's displayed on Thursday night evaporated by the time KG worked up his patented in-game sweat.

I'm guessing that Doc ripped into the team following a fairly embarrassing 1st, because the C's dug in a lot harder in the 2nd. They gave up 22 points, but several of Atlanta's baskets came courtesy of ridiculously kind bounces that extended possessions. The first quarter was about effort, the second was more about luck. But no matter the reason, the Hawks were on top 53-38 at the break.

And then it happened.

The Boston Celtics woke up.

While the Celtics did not cut into the lead during the tail end of the first half, their defensive effort carried over to the second half - and it was joined by something else. An offensive explosion. The C's came out of the break firing on all cylinders. They scored the basketball efficiently, getting contributions from all five guys. They defended at a level that we have rarely seen in this (so far) disappointing season. And they won just about every battle for 50/50 balls - something that points to the effort a team is giving more than anything else. In a span of twelve minutes, they turned a fifteen point deficit - into a nine point lead.

The turnaround was led by Paul Pierce. Pierce scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter alone, and he did it from everywhere. From distance, from mid-range, and most importantly - by taking it right down the Hawks collective throats.

In the fourth quarter the Celts continued their defensive dominance, and closed the game out the way they've failed to close out other games this season. After giving up 53 points in the first half, they gave up just 28 in the second half. This win improves the C's to 16-17 on the season, their next game is Monday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. Going to be a fun one.

Other game notes:

- 16 offensive rebounds! Was that really the Celtics?
- Jared Sullinger is a full grown man. I know he's not a prototypical NBA big man, but I don't care. His effort, natural knack for rebounding, and unconventional moves in the paint all give me a Stiemsma in my pants.
- Avery Bradley is a limited offensive player. But damn it the impact he made on this team has been real. The way he can single handedly effect the game defensively from the guard position - wow.
- Jason Collins made a basket.

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