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Rondo helps Celtics beat Hawks 90-84 in OT

Charles Krupa | AP
Charles Krupa | AP
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich (6) during the first quarter of Game 3 of an NBA first-round playoff series, Friday, May 4, 2012, in Boston.
By Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Celtics to a 90-84 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night and give Boston a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.

It was the seventh career playoff triple-double for Rondo, who missed Game 2 because he was suspended for bumping a referee in the closing minutes of the series opener.

Game 4 is Sunday night.

Ray Allen returned for Boston after missing almost a month and scored 13 points in 38 minutes. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Paul Pierce had 21 points one game after having 36 points and 14 rebounds to help the Celtics take home-court advantage with a Game 2 victory in Atlanta.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points and Jeff Teague had 23 for the Hawks. Tracy McGrady had 12 points — his highest total since he had 40 for Houston in 2008 — but 10 were in the first half, before he landed awkwardly on his right ankle and went to the locker room. He did not have a field goal in the second half.

Rondo scored Boston’s first two baskets of the overtime — the second by posting up Teague and knocking down a baby hook over him.

Boston never trailed from there.

The Celtics went on an 11-1 run to open a double-digit lead with 7 minutes to play in regulation, but Atlanta rallied and tied it 80-80 on Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1:23 left. Both teams failed to score on its next two possessions, leaving the Celtics with the ball out of bounds with 3.9 seconds left.

Rondo inbounded to Pierce, who was defended by Johnson and had to take a long, fallaway jumper that bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

The Celtics got Rondo back from his one-game suspension and Allen back on the court for the first time since April 10. He played just five games over the final month of the regular season because of bone spurs in his right ankle and missed the first two games of the playoffs as well.

The Hawks kept losing players. With top centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia already out, forward Josh Smith was scratched with a sprained tendon in his left knee.

NOTES: Hawks C Erick Dampier scored six points in 23 minutes. He played 83 minutes over 15 games and scored just two points in the entire regular season. … Pierce’s next playoff game will tie him with Dennis Johnson and Bob Cousy for 10th on the Celtics’ all-time list with 109. Next up is current Celtics GM Danny Ainge, with 112. … John Havlicek played in 172. … Johnson scored eight points in the first quarter and McGrady had 10 points and four rebounds in the second. … Celtics G Avery Bradley went to the locker room in the third with a sore left shoulder. The team initially said he would return, then said he wouldn’t. … Bruins president Cam Neely sat courtside with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, getting a big cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard. … Allen, the NBA’s career 3-point leader, was 0-for-4 from 3-point range. He was 1-for-3 from the line and 6-for-12 from the field.

76ERS 79, BULLS 74: Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth quarter to help the Philadelphia 76ers rally to beat the Chicago Bulls 79-74 on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series in Philadelphia.

Hawes scored 10 clutch points in the fourth to give the eighth-seeded Sixers the surprising series lead.

Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

Already playing the rest of the series without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls got another scare in the third quarter when Joakim Noah left with a sprained left ankle. Noah, who scored 12 points, returned in the fourth quarter and mostly hobbled around the court.

With Rose out, the Sixers believed they were in perfect position to knock off the top-seeded Bulls and build a series lead on their home court.

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