Hawks 102, Celtics 96

FINAL: Hawks 102, Celtics 96: So much for execution. Celtics miss on two straight possessions, and the Hawks pull this one out. Atlanta leads the season-series, 3-0. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 26 points and 7 assists, but Joe Johnson had 36 points for Atlanta.

Officials hear boos on their way down into the tunnel. These teams play again Jan. 29 in Atlanta.

1:40 4th quarter, Hawks 100-96: Getting down to crunch time now. The Celtics need to execute and get stops. One more Atlanta score might seal this thing.

2:44 4th quarter, Hawks 96-93: The Hawks are all the way back. Joe Johnson has 36 points to lead the way for Atlanta. The Celtics are shooting 59 percent and might lose this game.

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6:10 4th quarter, Celtics 88-87: Glen Davis just powered his way to a tough turnaround jumper. He has 10 points. The C’s need them.

8:47 4th quarter, Celtics 84-82: The Celtics have 18 turnovers. Only 7 for the Hawks.

END 3d quarter, Celtics 80-77: Doc Rivers’ ejection is the big story in the third quarter. The play bolstered the Hawks, who have whittled a nine-point deficit to three as we head into the final period.

This game just got a lot more intense. The last Celtics-Hawks incident Marvin Williams was in — his takedown of Rajon Rondo in the 2008 playoffs — took that series to another emotional level. This one has, for now, made this a very good basketball game.

6:16 3d quarter, Celtics 67-58: Two technical fouls on Doc Rivers and he’s been tossed from the game. Rivers was upset about a flagrant foul given to Glen Davis, who fouled Marvin Williams hard but in no way meant to be malicious.

Never seen Rivers that upset.

Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill also was called for a technical. Didn’t seem like he said much. You can bet Rivers will want the league to look closely at how the officials handled this incident.

10:05 3d quarter, Celtics 62-48: Can we at least acknowledge the possibility that Brian Scalabrine could block a Josh Smith shot? Scal had all ball there, but the official called a foul.

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Smith missed both free throws.


Halftime, Celtics 55-46: It’s been the Rajon Rondo show for the Celtics in the first half.
Rondo had 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting, to go along with 6 assists, in the half. He ran a Boston offense that shot 59.5 percent from the floor and 67 percent from behind the three-point line. Paul Pierce and Brian Scalabrine each had three of those three-pointers.
5:20 2d quarter, Celtics 45-34: Doc Rivers gave a little fist pump after the first one, and Brian Scalabrine nailed another three-pointer on the next possession to force an Atlanta timeout. Scal has nine points.
8:35 2d quarter, Celtics 35-25: Getting a little sloppy! The Celtics now have seven turnovers. Great shooting, but they need to start taking better care of the basketball.
END 1st quarter, Celtics 31-24: Rajon Rondo has 11 points and 4 assists and the Celtics are shooting a blistering 63 percent. Asked to break it down, colleague Bob Ryan, sitting next to me, said “They’re doing all the right things.”
Good enough for me.
2:10 1st quarter, Celtics 24-16: That flagrant foul really fired up the troops. Paul Pierce’s three puts the Celtics up eight and forces an Atlanta timeout.
2:57 1st quarter, Celtics 18-16: Zaza Pachulia’s been in the game less than a minute and he’s already under the Celtics’ skin. Pachulia gave a hard foul to Kendrick Perkins, and Perkins took exception because the foul was around his face. He had to be held back by Rajon Rondo. The foul was called a flagrant 1 foul.
Wouldn’t be shocked if Kevin Garnett made a cameo appearance to set a hard pick on Pachulia in the second half.
6:17 1st quarter, Celtics 11-9: Love the way these two teams match up. Rondo has a mismatch on Bibby. Johnson has one on Allen. Pierce has one on Williams. Smith has one on Scalabrine. Creates a lot of fun basketball situations.
Johnson, by the way, has eight points already.
9:25 1st quarter, Celtics 5-3: Brian Scalabrine forces Josh Smith into an airball, then drains a three-pointer on the other end. Who needs ‘Sheed?
Pregame: Boos for Mike Bibby. He’s still not very popular here.