Rondo leads Celtics to overtime thriller

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Rondo leads Celtics to overtime thriller

BOSTON The Atlanta Hawks were without Josh Smith, arguably the best player in this Boston-Atlanta series. The C's had both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo back in the lineup.

An easy night for the Celtics, right?

Far from it.

If there's one thing you can expect from the Celtics, nothing is going to come easy.

The Hawks gave the Celtics a much tougher-than-expected battle for four-plus quarters with the Celtics ultimately prevailing with a 90-84 overtime win.

Boston seemingly shut the door on Atlanta's quest at an upset when Kevin Garnett had a put-back dunk with 28.1 seconds to play that gave the Celtics an 88-84 lead.

After an Atlanta time-out, Joe Johnson jacked up a long three-pointer that was rebounded by Ray Allen who was immediately fouled.

Allen, who had missed his lone free throw attempt earlier in the game, was short on the first attempt with 21.4 seconds to play. However, he came through by knocking down the second which gave the Celtics a five-point lead.

The Hawks called yet another time-out, but it didn't matter.

The Celtics had this one, and with it, a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 at the Garden on Sunday.

Boston seemingly had the game won after a Garnett jumper with 6:58 to play in the fourth quarter put the C's ahead by 11 points.

However, the Hawks closed out the fourth with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 80.

The C's had one last chance to escape with the win in regulation, but Pierce's off-balance jumper was off the mark.

Boston's strong start to the fourth was them simply feeding off of a solid finish in the third quarter which ended with the C's ahead, 60-56.

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

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Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”