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Celts deny Hawks first three-game win streak since '04

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks had a three-game winning streak
in their grasp -- no small accomplishment for this bunch.

Boston snatched it away at the end.

Ricky Davis converted a three-point play with 1:40 left to give
the Celtics their first lead since the opening quarter, and Boston
held on for a 98-94 victory over the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Paul Pierce scored 27 points and Davis added 21 to lead the
Celtics, who kept Atlanta from winning three in a row for the first
time since April 2004.

"That was a good goal," said Josh Childress, one of six
players in double figures for the Hawks. "We really should have
had this game."

The Hawks built a 16-point lead in the second quarter, but
Boston slowly chipped away at the deficit. Finally, the Celtics
pulled ahead when Davis grabbed a long rebound at the top of the
key, took off the other way and converted the lay-in, drawing a
foul from Joe Johnson in the process. Davis made the free throw to
give Boston a 94-92 lead -- its first advantage since going up 13-12
only 5 minutes into the game.

"Guys just sucked it up and we got stops," Davis said. "The
last three, four games, we've just been battling back. That's one
thing, this team never gives up."

Johnson missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and Pierce did the
same for the Celtics. But Brian Scalabrine slipped inside to tip in
Pierce's miss, pushing Boston ahead 96-92.

Scalabrine was an unlikely contributor. He scored only four
points, but played a season-high 28 minutes and played a key
defensive role.

"In the NBA, it's your job to be prepared," Scalabrine said.
"This whole thing is not about getting numbers, but winning
basketball games."

The Hawks had a couple of chances to pull even after Pierce was
called for walking with 35 seconds left. Johnson missed again but
got his own rebound. Al Harrington drove past Pierce, but Mark
Blount stepped into the lane to draw the offensive foul with 7
seconds remaining.

Davis made a couple of free throws to seal the victory.

"They came out and turned up their intensity," Childress said.
"We just sustained our same energy. We have to learn how to turn
it up."

Zaza Pachulia led the Hawks with 18 points, while Harrington
chipped in with 16 and Johnson 15. But the Hawks fell apart
offensively in the second half, settling for jump shots instead of
working the ball inside. They shot 33 percent and managed only 32
points over the final two quarters. At the end, the Celtics even
had a foul to give to prevent Atlanta from getting off a shot or
reaching the foul line.

"We couldn't execute team basketball," Pachulia said. "It's a
5-on-5 game. We didn't share the ball down the stretch."

Johnson was the biggest offender, going 2-of-10 in the second
half.

"We weren't scoring and we weren't stopping them," he said.
"We couldn't come up with the big play."

Atlanta dominated much of the second quarter, stretching its
lead to 60-44 on Johnson's 3-pointer with 2:40 to go. But Boston
closed the half with a 9-2 spurt, slicing the deficit to 62-53 at
the break.

The Hawks failed in their bid to sweep the season series with
the Celtics. They had won the first two meetings, including a
103-98 victory in Boston last Friday to start their modest two-game
winning streak.

But Atlanta couldn't make it three in a row.

"We didn't get any defensive stops," Harrington said. "You
can't beat anybody down the stretch if you let them get layups."

Game notes
Pierce reached a career milestone, scoring his 13,000th
point late in the second quarter. ... Pachulia picked up his
1,000th career point in the third. ... The Hawks' last three-game
winning streak was April 9-12, 2004. They won only 13 games all
last season, the worst in franchise history. ... The Hawks haven't
won three games in a season series since they swept four games from
Cleveland in 2002-03.