BOSTON (AP) - Mike Bibby can talk about the Celtics fans all he wants now, because it doesn't look like the Hawks will be coming back to Boston.
2008 NBA playoffs
- Ford drives Raptors past Magic
- Wizards dominate Cavs in Game 3
- Rockets surprise Jazz in Utah
- Kahn: New life for T-Mac, Rockets
- Behrendt: Kobe on top of his game
- Kahn: Shortage of drama so far
- Rosen: Pistons make a statement
- Rosenberg: Byron Scott's revenge
- Kahn: Hornets rising to the occasion
- Rosen: Spurs make right adjustments
- Kriegel: Can Nash win title?
- Kahn: Jazz primed for sweep
- Rosen: Cavs following game plan
- Kahn: Kids putting on a show
- Western Conference playoff central
- Eastern Conference playoff central
- Wizards bounce back in Game 3
Rajon Rondo silenced Atlanta's blustery point guard - on the court, at least - and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday night as Boston beat the Hawks 96-77 to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
Rondo scored 12 points with eight assists and six rebounds, and Paul Pierce returned from a first-quarter knockdown to score 14 points for Boston.
"They are coming at us a little bit," said Boston's Ray Allen, who scored 15 points. "You knew what time it was, you knew what they were going to try to do. They were going to attack. And we had to attack right back."
The series moves to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday. The Hawks need to win one - and they haven't beaten the Celtics yet in five tries this year - to avoid a sweep and force the series back to Boston.
"This has been an experience," said Josh Smith, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. "When we return home, we are going to need our fans as much as ever."
Smith helped take Pierce down, landing on him and rolling over his head just 82 seconds into the game. Pierce left for the rest of the first quarter, getting a rubdown for what the team said was a lower back strain; he returned for the start of the second quarter.
But it was Bibby who drew the ire of the sold-out Boston Garden crowd.
The Hawks guard called the locals fair-weather fans during the week and he was booed at every touch from the opening introductions. As he sat on the bench in the fourth quarter and the game out of reach, the fans chanted "Where is Bibby?" and "Rondo's better."
In the first two games of the series combined, Bibby is 4-for-17 from the field with two assists.
But he didn't back down afterward.
"The people I was talking about know who they are," he said. "If they took offense to it, they must be part of it. I guess they are all bandwagon jumpers."
Garnett said he had never been treated like that by opposing fans because he would never say something to fire them up.
"It's hard enough to play on the road," he said. "I can't recall ... ever saying anything crazy like that."
Fair-weather or not, the Celtics earned the right to play in front of their home fans with the NBA's best record in the regular season.
And it's paying off with the 2-0 lead.
The crowd brought a buzz to the new Garden, setting the tone with a standing pregame ovation when Garnett was presented with the defensive player of the year award. With the fans chanting for him to pick up another award - MVP - Garnett motioned for his teammates to join him at center court, then raised the trophy above his head.
"It's not one person but it is all of us that make up this award," he said.
The Hawks came out feisty and physical. When Joe Johnson fouled to keep Pierce from an easy layup, Smith came in from the side and slammed Pierce to the floor, landing on top of his chest before rolling over his head.
The Celtics, especially Kendrick Perkins, took exception, and coach Doc Rivers ran onto the court to keep his young center from escalating the incident.
Pierce gingerly shot two free throws, making the second and staying in the game despite obvious pain until Rivers called a timeout to sub for him. The Celtics forward flopped onto the court in front of the bench before two people helped him up and escorted him to the locker room.
It remained quiet until James Posey of the Celtics was called for a flagrant foul when he knocked Smith to the floor with 8:39 left in the game.
Notes: The Celtics have outscored Atlanta in each of the eight quarters in the series. ... Actor Bruce Willis was in the crowd. ... The Hawks shot 38 percent (23-for-60). ... Garnett made just two of 10 shots in the second half.