If the Hawks and Celtics weren't under each other's skin before Monday's Game 4 at Philips Arena, they are now.And it's not just because the Hawks have tied the series at 2-2 heading into Wednesday's fifth game in Boston.
Hawks reserve center Zaza Pachulia and Celtics All-Star Kevin Garnett made sure the bad blood will linger when they got into a scuffle 7:24 before halftime that resulted in four technical fouls being called and both coaches running onto the floor to keep players from throwing blows.
The ruckus began with Garnett throwing an elbow to Pachulia's chest as the two battled for position under the Celtics' basket. After play had stopped for a called foul, Pachulia charged Garnett and the two stood nose-to-nose before players from both teams rushed in to separate them.
During that scrum, Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson and Celtics reserve point guard Sam Cassell got tangled up twice and had to be separated by players from both teams and the coaches.
The pushing and shoving earned Pachulia, Garnett, Johnson and Cassell technical fouls, but, surprisingly, no one was ejected.
"I don't take anything from anybody," Pachulia said afterward. "The message was, 'We're right here. And even if we lose, it's not going to be easy.'"
HAWKS 97, CELTICS 92: How's that for a menacing gesture?
The Hawks barely made the playoff field, sporting the fewest wins of any team in the 16-team field.
And now they don't seem to want to go away quietly.
Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson won't allow it.
He and Josh Smith willed the Hawks to a stunning Game 4 win over top-seeded Boston at Philips Arena, combining to score all 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Hawks pulled even in the series at 2-2 with Game 5 on Wednesday in Boston.
Johnson scored 20 of his career playoff-high 35 points in the fourth quarter as the Hawks overcame a 10-point deficit to win for the second straight night before a home crowd that went without playoff basketball for nine years until now.
The Hawks also guaranteed there will be at least one more playoff game at home this season by winning Monday. Game 6 will be in Atlanta on Friday night.
"It's unbelievable," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Joe Johnson willed us to win. He was hot and we continued to get him the ball."
Smith's free throws with 2.6 seconds to play sealed the win for the Hawks.