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Celtics 89, Hawks 81

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Boston Celtics answered a 31-point first quarter by the Atlanta Hawks with a 33-point third quarter, turning a 53-38 Hawks halftime lead into a 89-81 Celtics victory Saturday night at Philips Arena.

Paul Pierce had only nine points in the first half but came to life in the third quarter and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the Celtics (16-17). Kevin Garnett had 14 points and five rebounds and Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks (20-12) blew a 19-point lead in a disastrous third quarter in which they shot 22 percent and committed seven turnovers that gave the Celtics 10 points. The Celtics outrebounded the Hawks 17-7 in the quarter.

Lou Williams hit his first 3-point shot two minutes into the game on his way to a season-high 28 points, leading the Hawks. Jeff Teague added 17 points, 13 of them in the first half.

Kyle Korver scored nine points before picking up his fifth personal foul midway through the third quarter, opening the door for the Celtics' comeback.

Williams's 16 points in the first quarter -- his career high for first-quarter points -- were almost equaled the 18 points the Celtics scored in the period.

The Hawks beat up the Celtics in the first half without getting much from Al Horford or Josh Smith, who were both playing through hip injuries. But they still managed to pull down rebounds, eight for Horford and 10 for Smith, who also finished with 12 points.

Trailing 53-38 after the first half, the Celtics stiffened in the third quarter, chipping away at the Hawks' lead to narrow the deficit to three points at 6:05 in the quarter, then going ahead 61-60 on Jared Sullinger's basket at 3:47. The Hawks scored only nine third-quarter points.

NOTES: Smith and Horford, both playing with sore hips, started for the Hawks but Anthony Morrow's sore right hip is still keeping him out, as is Devin Harris' sore left foot. Harris' problem is a bruise in the fifth metatarsal, which makes it painful to push off. Although it's been feeling better, the Hawks don't want to take a chance that he'll aggravate the injury. ... The Celtics came into the game with a 5-11 road record, but that isn't what concerns coach Doc Rivers. "Right now we're just trying to be a better team," he said before the game. "The road stuff, it'll take care of itself." Rivers added that it has taken longer than he expected to become a consistent team with the new players on the roster. ... About Avery Bradley's growth on offense, Rivers reminded the media that Bradley had double shoulder surgery in the offseason and regaining his game is going to take time. "So, I don't expect him to be a great offensive player tomorrow," Rivers said.

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