Talk about a game of runs. Back and forth the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks went all game, posting double-digit runs in a game that started with two very uninterested teams and ended in an all-out bar fight. No way around it, Atlanta needed this one very badly, trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. And they got it.
Al Horford amassed 19 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes and Jeff Teague scored 16 as the Hawks grinded out an 87-86 win over the Celtics in Game 5 on Tuesday at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. Boston, which had won three straight, still leads the series, 3-2.
Atlanta pulled ahead several times in the second half, only to watch Boston claw its way back into the game. Several rallies by the Celtics late in the third and fourth quarters put the Celtics right back in the game. Even in the closing seconds, the Celts had a chance to win, but fell short. Rajon Rondo (13 points, 12 assists) stole the Hawks' inbound pass with 10.9 seconds left, only to bobble the ball away while trying to play hero ball on the other end, letting the clock expire and giving Atlanta second life as streamers fell from the rafters.
Boston's start couldn't be characterized as strong, but it did lead 21-15 through one quarter. Motivation was clearly lacking on both sides in the first, but Atlanta would make some corrections late in the second. Down four, 35-31, with 1:47 to play before halftime, Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson (15 points) and Teague each made threes to power a 9-5 run that gave Atlanta a 40-37 edge at the intermission. Boston was outscored, 25-19, in the second.
Another run (10-4 for Atlanta) kicked off the third period, and the Hawks would go ahead 66-54 with 2:54 left in the frame. Rondo came to the rescue, though, with six straight points to help lead Boston on a 10-0 run to close out the quarter trailing 66-64. Atlanta pulled ahead by seven, 83-76, at 4:18, but once again, the Celtics answered with a run of their own, and Ray Allen buried a three at the 2:41 mark to knot the score at 83 and cap off a 7-0 run. Horford would score four straight points, putting the Hawks up 87-83, and Boston's only answer would be a three from Paul Pierce with 50 ticks left, pulling the C's within one.
Pierce, who started the game 4-of-6 from the field but finished 7-of-17, never looked himself after his hot start during Tuesday's 16-point performance. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and seven rebounds, Allen scored 15 off the bench and Brandon Bass totaled 14 points and seven rebounds. Boston shot 44.2 percent (34-for-77) and was out-rebounded 41-33.
Game 6 between the Celtics and Hawks takes place on Thursday night at TD Garden.