Few gave the Boston Celtics much of a chance to beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their 2012 NBA Playoffs first-round series. With point guard Rajon Rondo suspended for bumping an official and Ray Allen sitting out again due to an ankle injury, the Celtics were very undermanned.
But that was before Paul Pierce put the Celtics on his back and put together a vintage performance. Pierce scored 36 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and the Celtics' defense locked down the Hawks late in an 87-80 win that tied up the series at one.
Pierce scored the first nine points of the game, then poured in 13 in the final quarter to surge his team in front. The Celtics' defense did the rest, holding Atlanta to just 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Not only did Atlanta lose the game, but they may have lost Josh Smith, who left the game late in the fourth quarter after injuring his knee sparring with Kevin Garnett. His status going forward remains unclear.
Noteworthy GIFs and videos:
Instant reactions from our bloggers:
pregame key: getting a lot out of Paul Pierce, ...umm, check— celticsblog (@celticsblog) May 2, 2012
Moral of this story, when a team cuts an 11 point lead to five in the final minutes of the 3rd don't put start the 4th with the second unit— Kris Willis (@Kris_Willis) May 2, 2012