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11.07.2008

Ainge Sees First Significant Action in Win over Hawks

Green Moves to 17-5
1981-82 Boston Celtics


The worse thing is, these same clubs must look at each other again tonight.

That's not a healthy state of affairs, because last night's lurching 94-86 Celtics ' conquest of the Atlanta Hawks was a grisly, messy affair. Playing in their own building, Atlanta figures to be twice as choppy on defense and twice as deliberate on offense. Great scheduling, huh?

This game was turned around irrevocably at the 4 1/2 -minute mark of the third period when the Celtics, who had trailed by a point (41-40) at the half and at that point were still behind by one point, scored eight unanswered points in a span of 2:18 to assume a 54-47 lead. Included in this run was a go-ahead flying, two-hand rebound jam by Robert Parish (18 points), a fast- break layup by Cedric Maxwell on a Larry Bird feed, a Parish layup from a nice Maxwell penetration feed and a pair of Parish free throws.

The Celtics led by nine (65-56) after three, and expanded the lead to 11 on three fourth-period occasions before a Dan Roundfield-led spurt brought the Hawks within four (85-81) with 3:13 to play.

However, the Celtics scored eight straight points to settle matters, the key sequence coming at 87-81 when Gerry Henderson, again subbing for the ailing Tiny Archibald, stripped Roundfield on a defensive collaboration with Kevin McHale and took a fast-break feed from the Birdman to put the Celtics ahead by eight.

Bird, who shot 2-for-11 from the floor, nonetheless was instrumental in the victory, as he had a season-high 17 rebounds and a career-high 13 foul shots en route to a 19-point evening.

Danny Ainge saw significant action, scoring eight points as the third guard.

The sputtering Celtics survived a 1-for-7 shooting half by Bird to stay within one of Atlanta at intermission, 41-40.

Boston actually led by three points (40-37) with 1:28 remaining, this after trailing by as many as seven earlier in the period, but the Hawks came back to regain the lead on a pair of Charlie Criss baskets, the first a left- corner fadeaway and the go-ahead hoop coming on a fast-break, goaltended drive.

Atlanta had gone ahead at 21-20 on a layup by John Drew, whose 11 first- period points sparked the visitors' offense. Kevin Loughery's club clung to the lead for the next 10 minutes, until a pair of free throws by Ainge gave Boston a 36-35 lead with 4:08 remaining in the half. Sam Pellom's jumper pushed the Hawks ahead by one, but Chris Ford responded with two foul shots.

Then came the favorite crowd play of the half. McHale rebounded a Mike Glenn miss and fed to Ainge along the left sideline. Ainge then lofted a superb, Bird-like, 35-foot lead pass to, yes, Bird, who shifted the ball from his right to left hand and laid the ball in to match the largest Celtics' lead of the entire half, 40-37.

The clubs had undergone 10 lead swaps during the first 9 1/2 minutes of the game prior to the final Atlanta go-ahead of the first quarter. Bird couldn't get anything to go down, but he did manage to get to the foul line often enough to score six points.

Ainge had entered the game with 9:21 remaining in the half and the Hawks in possession of a 31-25 lead. He played the rest of the period, acquitting himself well at both ends.

Loughery had early problems with officials John Vanak and Bill Simmons, drawing an early technical from the former and drawing the following admonition from him later in the quarter: "Kevin, you can coach all you want. Don't referee."

Atlanta, which trails only Boston in fewest points allowed per game, displayed an aggressive, sagging, helping-out defense that certainly flirted with zone-defense violations. Merely by looking at the halftime score, you can judge which team controlled the basic tempo of the game.

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