BOSTON — The Celtics went with one of their smallest lineups this season which, in the end, proved to be just enough for a 115-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The victory ended a five-game losing skid for Boston (20-39), while the Hawks (26-31) continue to fade from being a team fighting for home court in the first round of the playoffs to a team that's clinging to the eighth and final playoff slot after having lost 10 of 11.
Going with a small lineup is nothing unusual for NBA teams.
For the Celtics and the Hawks, injuries left them little choice but to downsize.
Boston was playing without Avery Bradley (ankle), Jared Sullinger (concussion), Vitor Faverani (knee) and Kelly Olynyk (sprained toe).
For the Hawks, the injuries were just as significant.
In addition to starters Paul Millsap (knee) and Al Horford (right pectoral muscle), the Hawks were also missing Pero Antic (right ankle), Gustavo Ayon (shoulder) and John Jenkins (back).
As much as those players were surely missed by their respective teams, the game was about players in the shadows most of this season taking center stage for this one night, this one opportunity to play the role of difference-maker.
No one took to this more than Boston's Jerryd Bayless, who finished with a season-high 29 points, bettering his previous high of 22 points set against the Celtics on Nov. 27 when he played for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Still, Bayless' big night didn't seem all that likely considering how the game began.
The Celtics could not have played much worse than they did to start the game with the Hawks opening with a 23-8 run.
Just as we've seen the Celtics play games that were the tale of two halves, Wednesday was the tale of two first quarters as Boston nearly wiped out that 15-point deficit in the first with a 17-4 run that brought them within 27-25.
Boston took its first lead in the second and spent a good chunk of the quarter playing with a lead as Bayless continued his strong play of late.
Usually a Celtics reserve, Bayless got the starting nod on Wednesday because of the rash of Celtics injuries.
He made the most of his increased role, but he wasn't the only Celtic guard putting in work.
Rajon Rondo looked as explosive as we have seen him this season, mixing in an improved shooting game with some laser-sharp passes that made for a strong 22-point, 11-assist night.
The 22 points scored by Rondo was also a season high. Boston also got a strong game from Gerald Wallace, who tallied his first double-double this season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Leading Atlanta's undermanned roster was Jeff Teague who tallied his third straight game with at least 20 points scored.
He led the Hawks on Wednesday with 24 points. Atlanta also got a solid night from DeMarre Carroll (24 points) and Kyle Korver (17 points).