Former Wildcat Rondo Brilliant Again as Celtics Dominate Hawks

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Rajon Rondo outplayed Mike Bibby and helped the Boston Celtics silence Atlanta and its blustery point guard.

Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Rondo added 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds to lead Boston to a 96-77 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

Paul Pierce returned from a first-quarter knockdown to score 14 points, and Kendrick Perkins added eight points and nine rebounds for the Celtics.

Josh Smith, who helped take Pierce down and appeared to land on him and roll over his head, had 13 points and eight rebounds for Atlanta. But it was Bibby, who called the locals fair-weather fans during the week, who drew the ire of the sold-out Boston Garden crowd.

Bibby was booed at every touch from the opening introductions. As he sat on the bench in the fourth quarter and the game out of reach, the fans chanted "Where is Bibby?" and "Rondo's better." In the first two games of the series combined, Bibby is 4-for-17 from the field with two assists.

Fair-weather or not, the Celtics earned the right to play in front of their home fans with the NBA's best record in the regular season.

And it's paying off with the 2-0 lead.

Game 3 is Saturday in Atlanta.

The crowd brought a buzz to the new Boston Garden, setting the tone with a standing pregame ovation when Garnett was presented with the defensive player of the year award. With the fans chanting for him to pick up another award -- MVP -- Garnett motioned for his teammates to join him at center court, then raised the trophy above his head.

The Hawks came out feisty and physical. Just 82 seconds in, Joe Johnson fouled Pierce to keep him from an easy layup. Smith came in from the side and slammed Pierce to the floor and landed on top of his chest before rolling over his head.

The Celtics, especially Perkins, took exception, and coach Doc Rivers ran onto the court to keep his young center from escalating the incident.

Pierce gingerly shot two free throws, making the second and staying in the game despite obvious pain until Rivers called a timeout to sub for him. The Celtics forward flopped onto the court in front of the bench before two people helped him up and escorted him to the locker room.

He returned for the start of the second quarter.

It remained quiet until James Posey of the Celtics was called for a flagrant foul when he knocked Smith to the floor with 8:39 left in the game.


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