Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce suffered a lower back strain as he went down in an early first-quarter pileup under the Celtics' basket, but he recovered to score 14 points on 10 shots in 28 minutes.
Boston forward Kevin Garnett (right) was presented with the Defensive Player of the Year award before the game, and he responded by waving his teammates onto the court to celebrate with him. Then they held the Hawks to a second straight night of sub-40 percent shooting as Boston maintained a double-digit lead over the final 30 minutes. "When we call a play, you've got to attempt to execute it," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "It can't be one or two passes and then the shot. ... I thought we got selfish."
Hawks power forward Josh Smith (6-for-23 over the first two meetings) continued to play offensively as if he was in a pickup game. At the other end of the spectrum was second-year Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has gone 12-for-20 overall for 27 points to go with 17 assists and one turnover (not to mention 12 rebounds) in this lopsided series. In Game 2, he threatened to produce more assists (he had eight) than the Hawks had altogether (10).
After playing three minutes in the opener, rookie point guard Acie Law hit all four of his shots to earn 21 minutes in Game 2. But he also contributed to the signature trend of one-on-one scoring for the Hawks, who produced an embarrassing 10 assists against 21 turnovers. Law was nonetheless more effective than veteran Mike Bibby, who failed to back up his recent criticisms of Bostonians as bandwagon fans. Bibby was 2-for-7 with one assist, and overall he's 4-for-17 with two assists and three turnovers in 62 remarkably passive minutes. All night Bibby was greeted as if wearing a Yankees uniform. "Where is Bibby?" sang the fans from the upper deck as Law started the fourth quarter in his place; later they chanted, "Rondo's better!" When asked if he or Ray Allen had ever put themselves in a similar position, Garnett shook his head. "Neither one of us has said anything that retarded," he said.
Don't expect the Celtics to coast through the rest of the series: They'll be excited about sweeping both games in Atlanta. Boston was a league-best 31-10 on the road this season, while the Hawks' 25 wins at home ranked ahead of no more than 12 NBA teams this season.
Bruce Willis sat courtside next to Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca. "Hey Bruce!" screeched a young Bostonian eight rows back. "I loved you in "The Whole 10 Yahds!"
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