for this game

Hawks stun Celtics again, force Game Seven

May 3, 2008 - 5:43 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- When Josh Smith told reporters that the Atlanta Hawks would "shock the world," no one believed him. The Hawks are one game away from doing just that.

Marvin Williams scored 18 points to lead six others in double figures as Hawks held on for a 103-100 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Six of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday.

Mike Bibby scored 17 points and Joe Johnson chipped in 15 for Atlanta, which had forced a decisive Game Seven back in Boston on Sunday.

"From day one, I told this team that anything is possible once you get into the playoffs, and this team believes that," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We are going to Boston, the crowd will be hostile, but if we stick with our gameplan and not dig a hole early, we will give ourselves a chance to win."

The Hawks are hoping to become the second straight eighth seed to defeat the top seed in the opening round of the postseason in a best-of-seven series. Last season, Golden State upset then- No. 1 Dallas in six games in the Western Conference playoffs.

"I think we definitely shocked the world," Smith said. "It would definitely take it over the top if we won Game Seven."

Much like the Warriors last year, no one expected the Hawks to be at this point against the top-seeded Celtics. But Atlanta - a nine-point underdog on its home court - once again proved the skeptics wrong.

"It's definitely a dream," said Smith, who finished with 11 points and three blocks. "We had ESPN on earlier (Friday). They thought we were going to get knocked out.

"What other people think about this team does not bother us. We know we can play with this team or anybody else. We didn't come into this series to lose or just be satisfied with making the playoffs."

After trailing by as many as 12 points, Atlanta established a fourth-quarter cushion with an impressive 10-0 surge midway through the period. The Hawks ruled the paint in the spurt, drawing four fouls against Boston - highlighted by Paul Pierce's sixth with 4:44 remaining.

On the play, the 10-year Boston veteran got tangled with Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia while positioning for a rebound as swingman Josh Childress scored a layup.

An irate Pierce picked up a technical on the play for arguing the call.

"(Pierce) was mad that the foul was on him," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "He was emotional. There was a foul, but I didn't see Pierce in the play."

Pierce did not talk to reporters after the game.

Johnson drained the technical to give Atlanta a 96-89 lead.

But Boston fought back, cutting the deficit to 97-95 on two free throws from Kendrick Perkins with 1:32 left before Johnson followed with Atlanta's lone 3-pointer.

"Mike somehow got it to me," Johnson said. "I threw a few dribbles and I thought I would try a pump-fake. I got a good look. I felt like it was good once it left my hands. I felt like it was money."

James Posey's 3-pointer sliced the Celtics' deficit to 100-98 with 48 seconds left. After Johnson nailed two free throws, Kevin Garnett added an easy layup as Boston made it a two-point game again.

Bibby split two from the line, giving the Celtics an opportunity to force overtime, but second-year guard Rajon Rondo misfired from deep to send the Philips Arena-record crowd of 20,425 into a frenzy.

"When we won a game, they were supposed to beat us in five," Williams said. "When they beat us (in Game Five), they were supposed to beat us in six. We felt like we could play with the Celtics."

But Boston got out to a blistering start, shooting 59 percent from the field in the first quarter en route to a 32-20 lead. Pierce scored 11 of his 17 points in the period.

But some trash-talking at the end of the quarter may have gotten Atlanta back into this one as Johnson and Boston's Sam Cassell both collected technicals after Cassell taunted the Hawks' All-Star, who retaliated with a backhanded shove.

A different Atlanta team showed up in the second.

With Boston's defense keying on Johnson, who torched Boston for 20 points down the stretch in Game Four on Monday night, the 6-6 swingman found a wide-open Williams repeatedly in the quarter.

The former second overall pick in 2005, Williams netted eight points to help Atlanta draw within 50-48 after intermission. Pachulia also was solid in the opening half, notching seven points and four boards.

"I knew they weren't going to let Joe Johnson play," Smith said. "I told Marvin this is your time to shine right here."

Pachulia's emotional confrontation in Game Four with Garnett was shown numerous times on the video board - intermixed with footage from the film "Rocky."

Quite fittingly, Pachulia grabbed the microphone from the Hawks' sideline reporter after this one was over and addressed the frenzied crowd.

"We're going to Game Seven," he exclaimed. "Wooooooo!"

"We played three games on the road and now, we have four games," Pachulia added. "We should win one game."

Garnett finished with 22 points and seven rebounds and Ray Allen added 20 for Boston, which fell to 0-3 on the road in the series after posting the best mark away home at 31-10 during the regular season.

"We're going home and the crowd will be behind us," Cassell said. "There's still energy on the home court, but you have to expect the unexpected. We need our fans in Boston to be fired up for this game."