Atlanta Hawks 84-90 Boston Celtics
CELTICS COACH DOC Rivers looked at his aging team at the end of regulation, and he wasn’t encouraged by what he saw.
“They didn’t look fresh,” he said Friday night after Boston beat Atlanta 90-84 in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. “And, honestly, I looked at the other team — they looked pretty bad, too. So that made me feel a little bit better.”
Rajon Rondo returned from a one-game suspension and recorded his seventh career playoff triple-double. The Celtics point guard had 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists one game after sitting out for bumping referee Marc Davis in the closing minutes of the series opener.
Rondo did not have a basket in the first half of Game 3, and Rivers said he noticed Rondo struggling to run the offensive plays.
“Then, finally, I told him: ‘Just be a scorer. Just attack.’” Rivers said. “And I thought that freed him up.”
Rondo scored 10 in the second and the first two baskets of overtime, including a post-up hook shot over Jeff Teague that gave Boston the lead for good.
Game 4 is Sunday night.
Ray Allen returned for Boston after missing almost a month and scored 13 points in 38 minutes. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Paul Pierce had 21 points one game after scoring 36 points with 14 rebounds to help the Celtics swipe home-court advantage with a Game 2 victory in Atlanta.
Joe Johnson scored 29 points and Jeff Teague had 23 for the Hawks. McGrady had 12 points — his highest total since he had 40 for Houston in 2008 — but 10 were in the first half, before he landed awkwardly on his right ankle and went to the locker room. He did not have a field goal in the second half.
[caption id="attachment_441133" align="alignnone" width="630" caption="Ramon Sessions prepares to round Nuggets guard Ty Lawson."][/caption]
LA Lakers 84-99 Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets swore if they could just play with a lead, this first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers would be a whole lot different.
When Danilo Gallinari made a reverse layup four minutes into the game, the Lakers trailed for the first time in the playoffs and the energized Nuggets used an astonishing 28-2 run to take control in their 99-84 win Friday night.
The fresh-legged and baby-faced Nuggets can tie up the best-of-seven series Sunday night at the Pepsi Center, where the grizzled but gassed Lakers will try to rebound from a 3-for-14 fourth-quarter shooting performance that doomed their comeback attempt.
Ty Lawson scored 25 points, setting the tone offensively, and JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried had double-doubles while stifling Andrew Bynum, who was shut out in the first half. Gallinari helped hound Kobe Bryant into a 7-for-23 shooting night.
“The game for us is all about our energy and our enthusiasm,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “It’s not complicated for us. When we play poorly we don’t play with enough energy, we don’t push the pace and we take too many jump shots.”
That wasn’t the case in Game 3.
Denver led 55-39 at halftime. The Lakers cut their deficit to four points in the third quarter but couldn’t get any closer and faded in the fourth.
Bynum’s putback with 1:18 left in the third quarter not only pulled the Lakers to 68-64 but his inadvertent elbow on the play broke Al Harrington’s nose. He didn’t return, but the Nuggets went on a 12-5 run to regain their composure and control of the game.
Bryant finished with 22 points after scoring 31 and 38 points in the two wins at Staples Center.