Paul Pierce battled through another tough shooting night to score 36 points and the Boston Celtics wiped out host Atlanta's 11-point lead in the second half even without Rajon Rondo, stunning the Hawks, 87-80, Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The series is tied at one game each. Game 3 is Friday night in Boston, and Rondo will be back for the Celtics in that one, his shorthanded team having claimed the home-court edge. The stellar point guard sat out a one-game suspension for bumping an official in the opener.
The Hawks appeared to be in control when they pushed out to a 65-54 lead late in the third quarter. But Boston sliced it to 66-61 by the end of the period, and Pierce led a dominating fourth.
Stoudemire out for Game 3
Amar'e Stoudemire's difficult season may be over. After being frustrated by the Heat on Monday night in Miami, the Knicks power forward punched a fire extinguisher case in an arena corridor, slicing open the side of his left hand.
Stoudemire met with a hand specialist on Tuesday in New York and had a small muscle in his left hand repaired. Later, the Knicks said Stoudemire will not play in Game 3 of New York's first-round playoff series against Miami on Thursday, and is being listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 4.
He apologized on Twitter for the act, which leaves the Knicks without another key player as they try to rally from a 2-0 deficit. Jeremy Lin is still recovering from knee surgery and Iman Shumpert is out for the season after tearing a knee ligament in Game 1.
"We all have done thing out of anger that we regret," Stoudemire wrote. "That makes us human. Bad timing on my part. Sorry guys. This (too) shall pass."
"It's tough. Your emotions run high. Split-second decisions can obviously alter things," Knicks center Tyson Chandler said after the game. "You can't fault anybody because I'm obviously a person that has high emotions at times. So one quick decision, make a mistake and now you've got to deal with the repercussions."
Almost forgotten in the latest drama: Miami had just sent New York to its NBA-record-tying 12th straight postseason loss.
Popovich is coach of year
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the NBA coach of the year after leading San Antonio to 50 wins and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. After a 12-9 start, the Spurs lost only seven more games the rest of the season.
The announcement came Tuesday. Popovich also won the award in 2003 when San Antonio won its second of four championships.
Popovich received 77 first-place votes. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was second (27), Indiana coach Frank Vogel was third (7), and Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was fourth (6). Boston's Doc Rivers and Denver's George Karl each received a vote.
Thunder up 2-0
Playing at home Monday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder clawed out a 102-99 win over defending champion Dallas to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Kevin Durant, who finished with 26 points, hit two free throws with 50.4 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a 98-97 lead, and James Harden hit four more foul shots to close it out. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 29 points.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 31 points. Dallas led in the closing minutes of both road games but couldn't even manage a split. Game 3 is Thursday night in Dallas.
- Inquirer wire services