Paul Pierce hit 10 of his 13 shots on the night, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and finished with 24 points in 18 minutes while Rajon Rondo added 20 points and 16 assists as the Celtics blew out the Hawks, 101-79, Sunday night in Game 4 at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett added 13 points while Ray Allen added 12 off the bench for the Celtics, who take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The series shifts back to Atlanta, where the Celtics can clinch the series Tuesday night in Game 5.
The Celtics appeared to catch a big break, as Pierce injured his left knee in the second quarter but returned for the third quarter. With the game not in question, the Celtics were able to rest their superstar, who rescued them in Game 2 in Atlanta.
Pierce and Rondo led a first-half assault on the Hawks. Pierce hit five of his seven shots in the opening quarter and led the Celtics with 10 points. Rondo had seven of his 13 first-half assists in the first quarter as Boston made 14-of-21 shots to race out to 32-19 lead.
Leading by 11 at 37-26, the Celtics ripped open the game with a 14-1 run, sparked by a pair of 3's from Pierce. The second 3-pointer from Pierce with 6:14 left in the second quarter put Boston up, 51-27. But just seconds later, he came down awkwardly on his left knee on defense and headed for the locker room with team doctor Brian McKeon. He finished the first half with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The Celtics shot a scorching 64 percent from the field in the first half to race out to a 64-41 halftime lead.
Pierce came out of the locker room and started the third quarter, hitting the first two shots he took -- both treys -- to improve his shooting to 10-for-13 on the night. Pierce came out with 8:24 left in the third and did not return as the Celtics were cruising. Pierce's sharpshooting was part of yet another Celtics' burst as Boston opened on a 16-2 run to take a 37-point lead at 80-43 just over three minutes into the third.
The Hawks cut the margin to 22 at 82-60 late in the third. But Rondo drilled a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to spur a 8-0 run as Boston re-established its 30-point advantage. The Celtics led 90-63 after three, as Rondo had 16 points and 15 assists.
After playing 37 minutes in Game 3, Allen needed to play only 19 minutes Sunday, hitting 5-of-9 from the field.