Rondo Leads Celtics Past Hawks

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
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
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.
Notes: The Celtics have outscored Atlanta in each of the eight
quarters in the series. ... Actor Bruce Willis was in the crowd.
... The Hawks shot 38 percent (23-for-60). ... Garnett made just
two of 10 shots in the second half.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)