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.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!