Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/5/13
ATLANTA -- Down 53-38 to the Atlanta Hawks at halftime, the Boston Celtics were snapping at each other and at coach Doc Rivers. Paul Pierce had had enough. "Don't get mad at Doc. He's coaching," Pierces said. "We've got to get mad at this other team. "I just said we wanted to bring the fight to them. We were kind of bickering at each other a little bit too much, figuring out what defense we were going to run. And I just had to say, the fight ain't with one another, it's against the other team on the court." And with that, the Celtics answered a 31-point first quarter by the Hawks with a 33-point third quarter, turning the Hawks halftime lead into an 89-81 Celtics victory Saturday night at Philips Arena. 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. "That," Hawks coach Larry Drew said, "was probably the most disappointing loss of the season for the mere fact that we're playing against a team that we have battled in the past and we've seen this kind of scenario before, where we've played well and then when it starts to get a little bit more physical and they start making it a little more difficult for us, we don't respond." 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 Hawks were outrebounded 17-7 in the quarter. "As I told our guys, I can stomach losing," Drew said. "But it's how we lose. The last way you want to lose is for a team to climb up in you a little bit tougher and you don't respond." 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. "We had a great first half and then stink it up in the second half like we did," Teague said. "Paul Pierce came to play in the second 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. "I just thought we wanted and easy night," Rivers said. "And (the Hawks) were playing too hard to make it an easy night. Every shot in the first half was the first option, quick shot." 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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