The Boston Celtics have been struggling lately, but in the third quarter of Saturday's game against Atlanta, they looked like a well-oiled machine.
A 33-point quarter, coupled with holding the Hawks to nine points, turned a 15-point Atlanta lead into a nine-point deficit, from which the Hawks could never recover in an 89-81 loss. Atlanta scored just 28 points after the break in the process of blowing that advantage.
Boston opened the third quarter on a 15-1 run, then, after the Hawks seemed to get back into the game with a pair of threes, the Celtics went on yet another run, this one at 18-2, to close the quarter. All told, Boston held Atlanta to two made shots and forced them into seven turnovers. The Celtics, meanwhile, hit 14-of-25 shots.
In the fourth, the Hawks pulled to within five on an Ivan Johnson dunk with 5:35 left. But Atlanta then committed turnovers on their next three possessions, letting Boston regain control and seal the game.
Paul Pierce scored 26 points to go with nine rebounds, and Rajon Rondo notched a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. For Atlanta, Lou Williams had a season-high 28 points, but scored only seven of those points after halftime. Josh Smith, meanwhile, had a game to forget, missing 14 of his 18 shots and turning the ball over six times.