for this game

Celtics stop Atlanta's win streak at four

Mar 15, 2007 - 4:24 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Hawks had their slim playoff hopes put on hold by the Boston Celtics.

A night after posting an impressive victory over Philadelphia, the Hawks came out flat in a 109-88 loss to the Celtics.

Al Jefferson scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Kendrick Perkins added 12 and 12 for Boston. Rookie point guard Rajon Rondo notched a double-double as well with 13 points and 10 assists.

"I was just taking what the defense gave me," Rondo said. "They turned their back on me a lot and I just tried to cut and the guys found me wide open."

Matched up defensively against Josh Smith, who has averaged 26 points and 60 percent shooting over the last three games, Jefferson made the 6-9 forward work for his 19 points as Smith was 6-of-16 from the field.

"He got in there and got the shots he wanted every time he posted for the ball," Smith said about Jefferson. "We should have limited that or at least sent him the other way."

Boston went into the half with a 50-41 lead and blew the game open with a 30-11 run over the last 7:25 of the third quarter to open up an 86-60 lead. Jefferson and Rondo each scored eight points during the run.

"We ran," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said about the third quarter run. "We got stops and when you get stops, especially multiple stops, you can run. Secondly, Rajon is starting to figure out that they play off of him. They leave him on traps and he's starting to become a cutter again. He's diving, he's cutting and he's getting layups."

"We knew they were going to try and come out and make a big run," Jefferson said. "They had won four in a row without their main scorer. We've been in this position before with them. We had a 20-point lead against them the last time they were here. We just wanted to beat them to it."

Marvin Williams added 13 points and Zaza Pachulia grabbed nine boards for Atlanta, which shot just 38 percent (24-of-63) from the floor.

"Unacceptable," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said about his team's effort. "We took a back seat tonight to the Celtics. I thought they played well from the beginning to end. We came out ready to play and as soon as they hit us we went the other way and that is kind of disappointing because we have been playing pretty good basketball. We played nothing like the way we played the last four games."

All-Star guard Joe Johnson missed his fifth straight game with a calf contusion.

The loss drops the Hawks four games behind Orlando, New York and Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The victory was the first time the Celtics have beaten the Hawks this season and only their second win in their last six meetings.

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