Boston (23-53) at Atlanta (28-49)

Fair Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EDT Tue Apr 10, 2007
  • TV: FSNE, FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Boston Celtics have trouble beating any opponent without Paul Pierce - even the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

The Celtics look to earn a rare win without Pierce, and get their first victory against the Hawks without their star forward when the teams conclude their season series Tuesday night.

Pierce has missed five straight games with a sore left elbow and is expected to miss at least one more, according to the team’s official Web site.

Boston (23-53) is 1-2 against Atlanta (28-49) this season, picking up its only win in the one game Pierce played - 109-88 at TD Banknorth Garden on March 14. Pierce, who oddly enough had just 17 points of 5-of-13 shooting in that game, has missed only one other matchup with the Hawks - a 99-85 defeat at Atlanta on March 11, 1999 during his rookie season.

The Celtics are averaging 86.0 points and shooting 38.3 percent against the Hawks this season without Pierce, who missed the first two games with a sore foot.

Boston has had little chance of picking up a victory in any game without their star since Pierce, who’s averaging 25.0 points in 2006-07, joined the team nine years ago. The Celtics are 3-26 this season and 6-34 all-time with him out of the lineup.

Al Jefferson, Boston’s second-leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, joined Pierce on the sidelines in a 105-98 loss at Indiana on Saturday night. Jefferson (bruised left knee) has missed three straight games and is not expected to make the trip to Atlanta.

“Obviously, to be undermanned, it was a great effort,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Saturday’s defeat. “Everybody played hard, and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”

Boston also played without guard Delonte West, who may return Tuesday after missing two games with a sprained left ankle.

The Celtics have lost four in a row on the road and three straight overall.

Atlanta fell 109-104 in overtime at Philadelphia on Sunday night, two days after ending a seven-game losing streak by beating Milwaukee.

Josh Smith scored 16 points for the Hawks on Sunday, but got into a verbal confrontation with coach Mike Woodson at the end of regulation and was sent to the locker room before the start of overtime. On Monday, Smith was suspended two games by the team for the expletive-filled tirade.

“I’m going to take my punishment like a man,” Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I know I was wrong. I’ll have some time to clear my head and be ready to go this weekend.”

Slava Medvedenko, who had played sparingly in 10 games this season, had 14 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes against the 76ers. Medvedenko had not played more than five minutes in a game, and had scored just 18 points all season.

Tyronn Lue had 24 points, a game-high nine assists and career high-tying eight rebounds for Atlanta. It was his first 20-point effort since scoring 25 in a win over Charlotte on Nov. 29.

The Hawks have allowed 100 points or more in a season-worst eight straight games, giving up 103.8 points per contest in that span.

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Tuesday, Apr 10