Celtics Dismantle Hawks in Second Half, Extend Winning Streak to 12

Celtics Dismantle Hawks in Second Half, Extend Winning Streak to 12Final: Celtics 102, Hawks 90. The Celtics may not have had Rajon Rondo or Shaquille O'Neal, but a whole slew of guys stepped up to give the Celtics their 12th consecutive win.

They get double-doubles from Kevin Garnett (17 points, 14 rebounds), Paul Pierce (15 points, 10 assists) and Glen Davis (18 points, 10 rebounds) to ensure a solid victory over the Atlanta Hawks. This winning streak began with a win over Atlanta, and it continues that way.

Marvin Williams finishes with an impressive 26 points for the Hawks, a season high, but it's all for naught.

The C's now have two days off before taking on the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon.

Fourth quarter, 1:53, Celtics 100-86: Ray Allen drills the 3, and that should just about do it. The Celtics are now up 14 with less than two minutes to play.

Just a gutty effort to pull out a very losable game. They had every chance in the world to blow this one, but they kept grinding.

No Gino sighting yet. He should be just around the corner.

Fourth quarter, 3:35, Celtics 93-84: Ray Allen makes a nice backdoor cut, gets to the basket and scores. The lead is back to nine.

The C's execution hasn't been perfect in this fourth quarter. We've seen some bad shots, some dumb fouls, some mental lapses. But they keep hitting enough shots to stay ahead, and that's what counts.

Fourth quarter, 5:59, Celtics 89-78: Nate Robinson just drilled a deadly 3 to put the Celtics up by double digits. The Hawks look like they just got the wind knocked out of them.

If the C's can get a couple more stops, it should be smooth sailing to consecutive win No. 12.

Fourth quarter, 7:41, Celtics 84-75: Yet again, the Celtics go on a 7-0 run to assert their authority.

The Hawks are running out of time now. They were in great shape back in the first half, but they haven't had that same poise since the break. This is the Celtics' game to lose.

Fourth quarter, 9:09, Celtics 79-75: The Hawks have charged back in impressive fashion, with four of their five starters resting, but the Celtics remain out in front thanks to a pair of Ray Allen steals and a nice Glen Davis finish at the rim.

The Hawks won't die quietly in this one. They're not one bit afraid of these Celtics — they swept them in four games last season, so they know a thing or two about standing up to the Eastern Conference champs.

Marvin Williams and Jeff Teague have really elevated their play in this second half. They now have 20 and 16 points respectively.

End of third quarter, Celtics 75-69: The Celtics have exploded for a 31-point third quarter, seizing control of this game behind a sterling performance from their Big Three.

Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combine for 23 in the quarter, along with countless big defensive plays and a handful of boards from KG.

They're 12 minutes away from 12 straight wins.

No Shaq, no Rondo, no problem.

Third quarter, 2:33, Celtics 71-63: We're witnessing another performance from the vintage Kevin Garnett. The man looks like he was cryogenically frozen in 2004 and thawed this morning.

KG's got 17 points and 13 rebounds in this one, singlehandedly making up for the Celtics' dearth of big men by dominating Al Horford and Josh Smith. He's a big, huge reason the Celtics lead by eight toward the end of the third quarter.

Doc Rivers is leaning on his Big Three for extended minutes, and he doesn't have much of a choice. All three veterans have handled it well.

Third quarter, 5:09, Celtics 64-56: It's official — the Celtics are taking this thing over.

Paul Pierce gets a dish from Nate Robinson in transition, and he pulls up and drills a 3 from the top of the key. The Celtics have exploded for a 7-0 lead, and they're now in total control of this ballgame.

Larry Drew and the Hawks need this timeout, badly.

The TD Garden is rocking.

Third quarter, 7:04, Celtics 57-53: Beautiful play under the basket by Kevin Garnett, corraling a Nate Robinson miss and tipping back in for two. The Celtics now lead by four again, and KG's got himself a solid stat line with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The C's have fought through all kinds of injuries lately, but as long as they've got a healthy, explosive KG, they can keep winning ballgames. Case in point.

Third quarter, 9:31, Celtics 52-47: Nate Robinson comes out firing in the third quarter, knocking down a big jumper here to push the Celtics' lead to five, their biggest of the night.

The C's offense hasn't really been clicking tonight, but if Nate can keep hitting shots, that'll be a nice jolt. This team is still learning to get the job done without Rajon Rondo, but they're getting there.

Halftime, Celtics 44-43: Thanks in large part to the energy of Kevin Garnett, the Celtics have rallied with a 6-0 run to close the first half, and they now lead the Hawks for the first time since the first quarter.

KG finishes the half with nine points and nine rebounds, the final rebound being a tip-in of a Paul Pierce miss to put the C's out in front.

The half hasn't been pretty, but the C's fought hard to earn this lead.

Jeff Teague leads all scorers on the night with 11 points.

Second quarter, 3:10, Hawks 43-38: The Hawks appear to have been electrified by Big Baby's foul — they've gone on a scoring spree since then, piling up seven points.

The C's have only defended in short spurts tonight. They've got to start stringing stops together more consistently.

They've also got to get Ray Allen going offensively. He's 0-for-2 from the field, with his lone point coming on a techinical free throw.

Second quarter, 5:43, Hawks 36-34: That was ugly — Glen Davis just grabbed Zaza Pachulia by the neck on a drive to the basket, and for a second or two, he wouldn't let go. Big Baby is whistled for a flagrant foul, and it appears well deserved.

Baby has played very well off the bench for the Celtics in this second quarter, registering eight points and four rebounds. But he's got to keep his wits about him. The Celtics are already down to 10 bodies and they can't afford to lose another. Looks like he just came dangerously close to getting himself tossed. Doc can't have that.

Second quarter, 8:09, Hawks 35-28: Doc Rivers has already used all 10 of his available bodies. He hasn't yet found a combination that can slow down Jeff Teague.

Teague's got 11 points on six shot attempts. That's crazy good.

The C's defense has had more holes than Swiss cheese.

Second quarter, 9:53, Hawks 29-24: It's still early, but so far Avery Bradley is being eaten alive by Hawks youngster Jeff Teague. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon has nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Bradley looks a little uptight out there. He's still getting up to speed with the NBA game.

The Hawks have opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run. Uh oh.

End of first quarter, Celtics 22-20: You know the Celtics are banged up when both Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody make appearances in the first quarter.

The C's are trying out some lineups we've never seen before, but so far, they've survived it. They've got a two-point lead at the break over the equally shorthanded Hawks.

Kevin Garnett leads the way for the Celtics with five points and five rebounds. For the Hawks, Marvin Williams turns in eight points and four boards for a solid quarter of his own.

First quarter, 2:44, Celtics 17-14: The Hawks are shooting just 6-of-17 from the field so far in this game, including a big fat 0-for-4 line from Josh Smith. The Hawks' execution offensively has been OK, but the Celtics' D has been better.

It's a miracle the Celtics are only up three at the moment. The lead feels bigger.

The Celtics are settling for jumpers a bit much — Ray Allen and Nate Robinson have each missed a pair of 3-pointers.

First quarter, 5:46, Celtics 11-10: The Celtics have strung together four consecutive stops. They're playing hard on defense so far, forcing the Hawks to settle for jumpers, and the shots haven't been falling yet.

Kevin Garnett already has four defensive rebounds. His energy has been crucial so far in helping the C's get stops.

First quarter, 7:15, Celtics 11-10: The fireworks are going off now. First Semih Erden throws down an electrifying dunk and completes a three-point play; then Marvin Williams knocks down a pretty-looking 3 from the left corner. Nate Robinson strikes back with a ridiculous reverse layup.

The flashy plays are flying on both ends. And for the moment, the C's have a slight lead.

First quarter, 9:44, Hawks 4-3: The Hawks' athletic big men have looked really solid early. Josh Smith just got a nice steal, cutting off a passing lane and intercepting a Robinson entry to Semih Erden, and Al Horford has been active on the glass, already with two rebounds.

The Hawks have a lot of size with this starting five, and the Celtics aren't exactly equipped at the moment to combat that.

This could be trouble, C's fans.

First quarter, 11:25, Hawks 2-1: Marvin Williams opens the ballgame with a quick bucket, but back on the other end, the Hawks are whistled for defensive three seconds. Ray Allen knocks down a freebie.

8:10 p.m.: The Hawks decide to mix things up with their starting five — against the Shaq-less Celtics, Larry Drew goes big and replaces Maurice Evans with center Jason Collins. The Hawks now have a huge front line of Collins, Al Horford and Josh Smith, with Marvin Williams at shooting guard.

The C's will be hard-pressed to find the size to combat that lineup. Shrewd move from Drew, who's trying something different in his second attempt to beat Doc Rivers' Celtics.

7:55 p.m.: Doc Rivers said prior to gametime that he had no additional update on Rajon Rondo — he fully expects the C's point guard to miss at least a week or two, so Nate Robinson will get plenty of minutes as Rondo's fill-in.

The C's have only 10 players available for Thursday's game — their other five (Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins) are all out for the time being. They'll have to lean on Robinson for more minutes than ever, and Marquis Daniels will also see some time at the point whether he likes it a lot.

To help the C's through this rough stretch, a lot of guys will have to play unfamiliar roles. And all the while, they'll have a double-digit winning streak on the line. The pressure's on.

4:30 p.m.: Both teams will be severely limited by injuries in this one. The Hawks will be without stars Joe Johnson (elbow) and Jamal Crawford (back), and the Celtics will likely be lacking both Shaquille O'Neal (calf) and Rajon Rondo (ankle).

Danny Ainge said Thursday that Rondo would likely miss a couple of weeks. We'll have plenty of further details on his situation later in the evening — stay tuned.

8 a.m.: On the night of Monday, Nov. 22, the Celtics absolutely humiliated the Atlanta Hawks on their own own home floor. They built up a 39-13 lead early, they manhandled the Hawks on D, and they walked away with a 99-76 win to improve to 10-4.

That was the start of something big.

The Celtics were coming off of back-to-back losses at the time, but they turned things around in a hurry. That Atlanta win was the first of 11 consecutive victories for Doc Rivers' crew, and on Thursday night, the C's will put that streak on the line as they face the Hawks again, this time at the TD Garden.

It won't be the same this time. Joe Johnson won't be able to go for the Hawks, and the C's will likely be without Shaquille O'Neal in addition to Rajon Rondo. But the C's have a streak to protect, and no matter who takes the floor Thursday, they'll be ready to work.

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