Led by Pierce, C's win 87-80

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Led by Pierce, C's win 87-80

ATLANTA The Boston Celtics weren't perfect. They made mistakes, turned the ball over and for stretches, couldn't make shots.

It doesn't matter.

Paul Pierce and company would not be denied as the Celtics rallied for an 87-80 Game 2 win over the Atlanta Hawks to even the series at one game each with Games 3 and 4 headed back to the Garden.

With the win, Boston now has home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.

While it was truly a team win, it was Pierce leading the charge from the outset. He finished with a game-high 36 points and 14 rebounds for his 22nd career playoff double-double.

The C's spent most of the game trailing, but as they've done so many times, they proved to be a resilient bunch.

There was no mistaking that the Celtics were playing a better brand of basketball compared to their Game 1 struggles, especially in their transition defense.

In addition, Boston also got a more aggressive start by Paul Pierce who scored Boston's first nine points.

The C's spent most of the first quarter with the lead, but a 5-2 spurt by the Hawks to close out the quarter led to a 24-all tie going into the second quarter.

After a slew of defensive stops and an occasional basket, Boston strung together back-to-back baskets to take a 34-29 lead before Hawks coach Larry Drew called a time-out.

The stoppage in play was just what Atlanta needed as the Hawks reeled off nine straight to take a 38-34 lead and eventually went into the half ahead, 44-41.

For Boston, Pierce was carrying the scoring load in the first half with 16 points which was impressive considering the defensive help he was looking for in the first half from Mickael Pietrus was nowhere to be found for most of the first half.

Pietrus, in the starting lineup because of Rajon Rondo's one game suspension for making contact with an official, was whistled for three fouls in the first four minutes of play and spent the bulk of the half on the bench.

As for the Hawks, it was Jeff Teague keeping them afloat for key stretches in the first half in which he had 12 points and four rebounds. Josh Smith, who ate the Celtics alive in Game 1, was trending towards a triple-double with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in the first half.

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

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Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”