Celtics Live Blog: Paul Pierce Scores 21 Points as C’s Outlast Hawks 90-84 in Game 3

Celtics Live Blog: Paul Pierce Scores 21 Points as C's Outlast Hawks 90-84 in Game 3Game over, Celtics win 90-84: This one is mercifully over. Even with an extra five minutes, neither team was able to make it to 100 points. But the Celtics have a 2-1 lead in the series, so they will take it.

Pierce led the Celtics with 21 points. Joe Johnson had 29 points in the loss.

Overtime, :21.4, Celtics 89-84: Of course Ray Allen pulled down the rebound after Johnson's miss. The old guy with one bad wheel always gets the clutch rebound.

Allen missed one of two free throws, which might be more surprising than his rebound.

Overtime, :27, Celtics 88-84: Rondo missed a layup. Garnett was there to slam home the miss. Timeout Atlanta.

Apparently, nobody on the Hawks thought it was important to come over and box out KG after Collins had to help on Rondo's would-be bunny.

Overtime, :33.7, Celtics 86-84: The Celtics were hanging on, barely. Johnson dipped in a teardrop over Garnett to pull Atlanta within a basket. Pietrus' best asset as a defender is his length, and that is canceled out by the 6-foot-8 Johnson.

Overtime, 2:04, Celtics 86-82: Garnett hit the deck to gobble up a loose ball. Rivers literally grabbed an official to call a timeout. That was kind of funny.

Overtime, 2:43, Celtics 86-82: Pierce has scored 14 points officially at the free throw line, and he added two more unofficially with a pull-up jumper from the stripe to give the Celtics a four-point lead in the extra session. Green's short jumper was the Hawks' only basket in the first two minutes of the OT.

End of regulation, game tied 80-80: Pierce shot an elbow jumper, of course, although it was farther than the Celtics probably would have liked.

Overtime.

Fourth quarter, :03.9, game tied 80-80: Hawks took their foul to give. Timeout Celtics.

Fourth quarter, :14.9, game tied 80-80: Willie Green missed a mid-range jumper. Celtics ball. Celtics timeout.

Fourth quarter, :37, game tied 80-80: Joe Johnson decided to score five points to tie the game. What a killjoy for the Boston fans.

Fourth quarter, 2:30, Celtics 80-75: There was a lot going on, but not a whole lot of points being scored. All you really need to know is that the fourth quarter became the Teague vs. Rondo show.

The point guards dueled with Rondo posting six points, four assists and four rebounds and Teague putting up seven points in the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. Rondo's line was 12 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds — and only one turnover since halftime.

Garnett also scored six points, looking frisky after two days without a game.

Fourth quarter, 5:30, Celtics 76-69: This Teague kid is pretty good, folks. Just when it looked like the Celtics would put this one away, he served notice that it wasn't over yet.

Teague had scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and six points in the fourth quarter. Rondo might get more notice for an inevitable triple-double, but it was hard to argue Rondo was any better than Teague.

And Bradley now apparently will not return.

Fourth quarter, 8:49, Celtics 70-64: Uh oh, Atlanta. It might be time to worry. The Celtics hit four of their first five shots in the fourth quarter, capping off their 10-6 run with a corner trey by Pierce. Rondo got to 10 assists, and Bradley apparently will return with a sore left shoulder.

End of third quarter, Celtics 60-58: Is it OK not to be very impressed with a triple-double? Unless Rondo has an absolutely monster fourth quarter, he appeared to be on his way to an underwhelming triple-double, if there is such a thing.

Rondo entered the final 12 minutes with six points, eight assists and eight rebounds, but at no point in the first three quarters did it feel like he was the best player on the floor. That usually is a prerequisite for a triple-double.

Anyway, the Celtics and Hawks combined to shoot 15-for-33 in the third quarter, which in this game qualified as being in the zone. Pierce was a perfect 14-for-14 from the line, accounting for all but two points of his scoring output in the first three quarters.

Third quarter, 1:48, game tied 54-54: Something happened to Bradley. Not sure what, but he left the bench.

Third quarter, 2:06, Celtics 54-53: You read that score correctly. With more than two minutes left in the third quarter, neither team was close to getting out of the 50s on the scoreboard.

Two of the worst offenders were Johnson, who missed five of his first seven shots in the second half, and Rondo, who was 1-for-5 to begin the third.

The Celtics' shooting from 3-point land in the series thus far: 5-for-33.

Third quarter, 7:03, Celtics 46-42: Bradley had the dunk that would have blown the roof off the Garden, figuratively. But the ball bounced out and Bradley was called for basket interference. Hey, this is only his first playoff series.

The Celtics' 8-4 run to begin the third quarter (and in this game, 8-4 does constitute a run) came despite the two teams combining to miss seven of their first eight shots after the intermission. Rondo had two assists, two rebounds and two points to warrant a triple-double watch: Four points, seven assists, six rebounds. But it was just as likely he would make it there in turnovers as well. He had five in the first half, although none in the first five minutes of the third.

Halftime, Celtics 40-38: At this rate, the Hawks will not have any players left.

Tracy McGrady, who was arguably Atlanta's best player in the first half, came down awkwardly on a 3-point attempt when his right foot appeared to land on Rondo's foot. McGrady's ankle bent fiercely and he had to be helped to the locker room.

McGrady's issue added injury to insult in a first half that saw both teams combine to shoot 30-for-81 from the field with 17 turnovers.

The Good: McGrady posted an all-around game of 10 points and six rebounds in the first half. It was not quite 2004 T-Mac, but it was still impressive for the 32-year-old former perennial All-Star. … Ray Allen was none the worse for wear, hitting four of his six shots off the bench.

The Bad: Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 10 points but was only 1-for-5 from the field. He needed eight free throw attempts, all makes, to bolster his point total. … Rajon Rondo missed all three of the shots he attempted and canceled out his five assists with five turnovers. … Joe Johnson had another off half, going 5-for-12 from the field with two turnovers.

The So-so: Kevin Garnett did many little things, hauling in six boards and blocking three shots, but he shot only 4-for-10.

Second quarter, 1:31, Hawks 38-36: The Celtics' shooting improved in the second quarter, but trouble protecting the ball hampered their offense. Whatever steps the Celtics seemed to take the improve their offense, there was a setback. They shot 6-for-11 in the frame but committed four turnovers to bring their total up to nine with a minute and a half left in the first half. They continued to defend well, with Garnett and Stiemsma combining for five blocks, but Pierce, Bass and Rondo were extremely out of rhythm.

Second quarter, 5:39, Celtics 28-27: Rust? What rust? Allen left the court for a brief rest before returning to the court. The Celtics have no idea how his ankle will respond, so if this game ends up being the only one he can play in, they were obviously willing to ride him as long as possible.

Tracy McGrady had a strong first 12 minutes off the bench, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds. The Hawks were outscored 11-8 to start the second quarter, but McGrady supplied all but two of their second-quarter points.

Second quarter, 8:04, Hawks 23-20: Only three players have provided all the baskets for the Celtics, and as well as the Celtics defended in the first quarter and early part of the second quarter, they needed to find more offense if they hope to take a 2-1 advantage in the series.

The Celtics were 7-for-24 from the field through the first 15:56 of play, putting them in a deficit despite holding Atlanta to 10-for-31 shooting. Garnett, Bradley and Allen were the only Celtics  to score field goals, although Garnett missed six of his first eight shots.

End of first quarter, Hawks 19-17: Allen appeared to be favoring that right ankle, which is to be expected. He did not leap for rebounds, cut hard to the left (which usually requires the right foot to be the push-off foot) and landed first on his left foot on all four shots he took in the first quarter.

Ray being Ray, though, he still hit both of those shots. That was one-third of the Celtics' field goals in the first quarter, as they shot 6-for-21.

First quarter, 2:51, Hawks 19-15: Allen did not get cheated in his return to the court. He took two shots within his first minute after checking in, hitting a short baseline jumper and missing a 3-pointer off the back rim.

The energy of his return overshadowed Joe Johnson having a miniature flurry, giving the Hawks' pure scorer eight minutes in the first nine minutes of the game.

First quarter, 4:06, Hawks 18-15: Allen hit his first shot. And the crowd goes wild again.

First quarter, 4:40, Hawks 15-13: Ray Allen takes the floor. And the crowd goes wild.

First quarter, 5:50, Celtics 13-11: The Celtics as a whole came out of the gate misfiring, but Kevin Garnett and Avery Bradley had things covered.

Garnett and Bradley accounted for all of Boston's scoring in the first six-plus minutes, while the rest of the Celtics combined to shoot 0-for-6 from the field. Garnett was freed from having to guard the injured Smith, and reponded by nabbing three rebounds and blocking a shot in the opening minutes.

Erick Dampier made an early appearance, replacing starter Collins, because Hawks coach Larry Drew pretty much had no choice. The Hawks just do not have any big guys left.

First quarter, 10:45, Celtics 2-0: The crowd is psyched, and the players may be a little too pumped up. The teams combined to miss their first four shots before Paul Pierce went to the line and knocked down two foul shots.

7:40 p.m.: Justin Waithe has some pipes on him. If the Celtics have not already arranged for him to sing the national anthem before every home game in the playoffs, they need to make it happen.

Waithe, who was one of a revolving cast of Celtics to sing the national anthem during the regular season, performed another stirring rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner prior to introductions. The dude can sing.

7:28 p.m.: You may have read that Jerry Stackhouse, of the Atlanta Hawks, is picking his team to win the championship. That makes sense.

If Atlanta does not win it all, though, he is picking the Heat. That puts him in line with just about everybody else, but it is a little surprising to see a player on a team still alive in the NBA playoffs sharing such a thought.

Would that be bulletin board material for the Celtics? Do the Celtics need any bulletin board material at this point?

7:01 p.m.: Ray Allen will give it a go. Doc Rivers told reporters minutes ago that Allen will suit up and come off the bench for the Celtics, although the coach would not say how many minutes he expects from him. Allen has been out since April 10 with bone spurs in his right ankle, and he apparently has decided to play despite the pain. That makes the Celtics tentative about Allen's return, since they are not certain how Allen's ankle will respond on Saturday or Sunday. But Rivers and Allen have both said for weeks that if Allen can play, he will play.

Josh Smith is out as anticipated. Zaza Pachulia is out as well. In the words of Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, "We're dropping like flies."

The probable starting lineups, supposing nothing befals either team before tip-off, are below.

Hawks
Jason Collins
Marvin Williams
Joe Johnson
Kirk Hinrich
Jeff Teague

Celtics
Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Avery Bradley
Rajon Rondo 

8 a.m.: Rajon Rondo will be back in uniform, looking to dish the Celtics into the lead in their best-of-seven first-round series.

Rondo returns to the team after serving a one-game suspension in Game 2, when Paul Pierce went off for 36 points to even the Eastern Conference playoff series against the Hawks at 1-1.

Ray Allen is still no more than a game-time decision, and the Hawks are doubtful they will have power forward Josh Smith, who sprained the patellar tendon in his left knee late in Tuesday's game.

The Celtics are confident as they return home, especially after reserves Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels provided key performances at both ends of the floor in Game 2.

Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

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