Hawks edge Celtics to avoid eliminationMay 9, 2012 - 3:51 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Al Horford and Josh Smith shook off injuries and posted double-doubles to keep the Atlanta Hawks' season alive with a hard- fought 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Horford, battling through a still-bothersome pectoral injury that caused him to miss most of the regular season, totaled 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Smith chipped in 13 and 16 despite dealing with a sore knee.
Smith nearly threw away a chance to seal the win when his inbounds pass with 10.9 seconds remaining was stolen by Rajon Rondo.
Down by one, Rondo pushed the ball up the court and dribbled into the left corner. Smith and Horford switched defensive responsibilities, and Horford disrupted Rondo's dribble as time wound down.
By the time Rondo recovered and threw to Kevin Garnett at the top of the key, Smith tipped the ball away as the buzzer sounded, pulling the Hawks within 3-2 of a series that continues Thursday back in Boston.
"The whole thing was to force [Rondo] to pass the ball. I crowded him as much as I could, and Josh made a great tip," recalled Horford of the final play.
The Celtics received 16 points apiece from Garnett and a hobbled Paul Pierce. Ray Allen added 15 points, and Rondo finished with 13 points and 12 assists in defeat.
Every time the Hawks made a run, the Celtics seemingly answered.
Down 66-54 following a 10-0 Hawks run late in the third, Boston scored the final 10 points of stanza to pull within two.
Atlanta tried to pull away again in the fourth as Smith powered a 14-3 spurt that gave the hosts an 83-76 edge with just over four minutes remaining.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, as consecutive field goals by Garnett and Pierce preceded Allen's tying three-pointer with 2:41 on the clock.
Horford, who surprisingly returned from a four-month absence in Game 4, put in back-to-back buckets around a Garnett miss before missing a jumper with a minute to play.
Pierce, also limited due to a knee injury, followed by hitting a three- pointer, but airballed a potential go-ahead jumper with Joe Johnson in his face the next time down.
The Celtics used their foul-to-give with 10.9 seconds remaining, leading to the breathless final sequence.
"I didn't like our execution down the stretch," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "We did a couple of things we shouldn't have done, but overall I just thought [the Hawks] played harder. They played better."
Pierce scored nine points in the first quarter, pacing the Celtics to a 21-15 lead, but the Hawks battled back in the second and things were even at 40-all by halftime.
The Hawks shot 47 percent from the field compared to the Celtics' 44 percent effort...Jeff Teague donated 16 points for the Hawks, who got 15 points apiece from Johnson and Marvin Williams....Atlanta won the rebounding battle, 41-33.
- BOSTON: 86
May 8 10:39 PM
- BOSTON: 64
End of 3rd
May 8 9:59 PM
- BOSTON: 22
End of 1st
May 8 8:35 PM
- BOSTON: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
May 8 8:11 PM
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