In his playoff debut, Celtics second-year point guard Rajon Rondo (15 points on nine shots, nine assists, no turnovers) vastly outplayed Hawks veteran Mike Bibby (five points on 10 shots, one assist, two turnovers). "I think we'll have a better game next time," said Bibby. "I've got to help the team be more aggressive offensively and attack and make things happen for myself and for my team." Rondo finished the third quarter by making an open jump shot, a fallaway jumper and a difficult runner across the paint -- and on his way to the bench was mauled by an enthusiastic Kevin Garnett. While the Hawks playoff-experienced backcourt of Bibby and Joe Johnson was a combined 9 of 32 for 24 points, the Hawks discovered a reliable go-to force in rookie Al Horford, who had 20 points (7 of 10) and 10 rebounds in his first playoff game. The Celtics had double-figure scoring from six players, led by Ray Allen's 18. Garnett had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and the Celtics held Atlanta to 38.2 percent from the floor. "I think our guys have really been waiting for it, longer than most teams," said Boston coach Doc Rivers of the anticipated start of the playoffs. "I thought we played well, but we can play better -- and that's the good news." Before the game Atlanta coach Mike Woodson spoke of how his team must defend and rebound with the Celtics. The Hawks outrebounded their hosts 41-40 and didn't let them get carried away from the field (46.9 percent shooting), but 15 Atlanta turnovers combined with the offensive anemia of everyone but Horford and sixth man Josh Childress (4 of 5 for 10 points) to doom the bottom-seed Hawks. With 8:43 left in the first quarter, the Hawks had been forced to call timeout after a pair of Paul Pierce threes jumped the Celtics to an 8-2 lead, and the scoreboard relayed news of the Pistons' 90-86 loss to the 76ers. So a good night in Boston was in all ways assured.
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