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.