After Thursday's practice, Kevin Garnett was asked if he considers Atlanta a rival. The Celtics forward responded, ``Not at all.'' That comment didn't surprise Al Horford, though the Hawks forward believes the C's knew they'd have a battle on their hands when the teams faced off last night.
``I'm sure they feel that way, but I know that when they go out on the court, they're on edge,'' Horford said after yesterday morning's shootaround. ``And they know what time it is because we're going to bring our game.''
That they did, beating the Celtics , 97-86, at the Garden.
The Hawks had earned some respect when they forced the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. The C's advanced and went on to win the championship, but the series resonated. There were a number of chippy moments, from Garnett going nose-to-nose with Zaza Pachulia to KG's series-punctuating throat slash late in Game 7.
Horford was also in the middle of a number of dust-ups during the series. After making a crucial shot late in the Hawks' Game 3 win, Horford jawed with Paul Pierce. The Celtics captain responded with an infamous ``menacing'' hand gesture that drew a $25,000 fine from the league.
Then a week before this season, Horford said on an Atlanta radio station Pierce owed him $10,000 after a bet that the Celtics would sweep that series.
Horford immediately backed down from the comments, posting the following message on his Twitter page the next day:
``Some of my comments from the radio interview I did yesterday with 790 The Zone were overblown. I was joking. Paul Pierce and I did not make a bet during the playoffs in 2008. I do not bet on Basketball or any other sports.''
Horford didn't really confirm or deny the bet took place when talking about the subject yesterday, but clearly there was some trash talk going back and forth.
``It was something that happened long ago,'' Horford said. ``It was almost on his side with just kind of bragging on how bad they were beating us. I just wasn't going to take it. I'm not going to take that from anyone, period.''
Horford, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds last night, said he hasn't spoken to Pierce at all about the issue.
``There's no hard feelings from my side,'' Horford said. ``It was blown out of proportion, but I'm glad that I was able to clear it out and we can move on.''
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