BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Celtics, who have already had their share of key injuries, had a quick scare seconds into the second half when Paul Pierce fell to the floor hard and was down for a bit before limping to the bench.
After a timeout, the 35-year old captain shook off the slight injury to his left leg, headed back onto the court and went back to work on his third triple-double of the season.
Pierce had 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and Jeff Green scored 27 points to carry the Celtics to a 118-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Pierce was just glad others stepped up, too.
``Well, we need it,' he said. ``It has to come from everybody. Like I said, due to the injuries, guys are getting opportunities.'
Boston coach Doc Rivers knew Pierce was upset over a seven-turnover night in a victory at Cleveland on Wednesday.
``He's just so smart. He's never in a rush,' Rivers said. ``We just told him to, `Be an aggressive scorer. Your instincts will have you pass.''
Jason Terry was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers and finished with 24 points for Boston, which won its second straight following a five-game losing streak. Brandon Bass scored 13 and Shavlik Randolph grabbed a career-best 13 rebounds with nine points.
``Paul just gets everybody involved,' guard Avery Bradley said. ``I love playing with him. He just wants to win.'
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 18 points but shot just 7 of 23 from the floor and 0 for 6 in the second half. Mike Scott scored 19 and Jeff Teague added 17 points and seven assists.
``Paul Pierce is going to score on anybody. He's been doing it for a long time,' Teague said. ``Jason Terry and those guys making shots, they're tough to beat.'
The Celtics, who closed to 1 1/2 games behind the Hawks for the Eastern Conference's sixth playoff spot, won the season series 3-1.
The Hawks sliced an 11-point deficit to 100-94, but Bass nailed a baseline jumper and Terry followed with a 3 from the top of the key after a wild scramble for a loose ball that had it slip through the hands of at least four players. Green then nailed a jumper, making it 107-94 with 5:08 left.
The Hawks never threatened the rest of the way.
``That's kind of how the game went,' Hawks coach Larry Drew said of the loose ball episode. ``We had some breakdowns and we kept fighting, which was very encouraging.'
Boston, which led by 10 at halftime, pushed it to 83-68 on Green's 3-pointer from the right corner midway through the third and benefited from a poor shooting quarter by Atlanta's Smith.
The Celtics owned a 92-80 advantage after three. Smith was 0 for 6 from the field, missing five jumpers and came up short on a drive. He also got a technical. Pierce was close to a triple-double after three quarters, collecting 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Terry hit consecutive 3s just 32 seconds apart midway into the second, triggering Boston's 25-8 run. He made four in the spree and Pierce added one, helping the Celtics to a 66-56 halftime edge.
Jordan Crawford hit a buzzer-beating 3 from directly in front of the Celtics' bench to give Boston a 32-30 edge after one. The lead flip flopped nine times in the opening quarter.
NOTES: Hawks F/C Al Horford missed the game due to an illness. ... Rivers said before the game that the timetable for F/C Kevin Garnett's return remained the same. ``I think it's still two weeks,' he said. ``I don't think it'll be any longer than that. But if it's two and a half, I don't want to you to call me a liar or anything like that.' Garnett missed his fourth straight with what the team called ``left ankle inflammation.' ... Boston G Courtney Lee returned after missing three games with a sprained left ankle. ``I worked out (Thursday) and felt good,' he said before the game. ``Then at shootaround (Friday morning) I felt good and decided to give it a go.' ... Hawks G John Jenkins left the game with a concussion and the first half and didn't return. ... Boston G Rajon Rondo, out for the season after right knee surgery, was on the bench. ``We felt like we had our captain back,' Bradley said. Rivers said Rondo has been doing most of his rehab work in Florida. ``He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around,' Rivers said.
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