BOSTON — Shavlik Randolph?
Paul Pierce had a triple-double, Jeff Green scored 27 points and Jason Terry had 24. But it was the inspired play of Randolph, the former Duke Blue Devil the Celtics brought over from China earlier this month, that was a real key to the 118-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at TD Garden.
Just missing his first NBA double-double, Randolph, who first signed a 10-day contract March 11 but then got a deal that could go beyond this season, tied his career high with 13 rebounds, scored nine points and blocked two shots. He did all that in just under 22 minutes off the Boston bench.
“That’s what he is and that’s what he does; and he understands who he is and he does it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of the 6-10 Randolph.
“I just thought he did a lot of good things; really happy for him.”
After the game, as Pierce came out for post-game interviews, Randolph got dressed and left. It wasn’t clear if he didn’t want to talk, if he thought no one wanted to talk to him — or if he wanted to hurry off and watch Duke play Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.
At one point in the game, Randolph had one-third of his team’s rebounds, his nine compared to the team’s 27.
“He did a lot of dirty work,” said Pierce, who had 18 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in his 10th career triple-double, his third this season. “He went in there and stuck his nose in there in the middle. He got some offensive rebounds (five), some put-back layups. He was in the right position pretty much all night.”
In their previous two games, the Celtics had eight second-chance points. Friday night they had 15.
The win moved Boston, winners of two straight after a five-game losing streak, to within 1 1/2 games of the Hawks for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff seeding.
Green won Wednesday night’s game in Cleveland with a buzzer beater and went 11 for 20 from the field, adding four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block Friday. Terry was 7 for 10 from the floor, 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
Both teams were missing their big men, with Boston’s Kevin Garnett out with a foot injury and Atlanta’s Al Horford out with a stomach illness.
While the Celtics have been suffering with injuries for weeks, the Hawks were also missing guard Devin Harris (third straight game, foot) and guard John Jenkins suffered a mild concussion on a Pierce pick in the first half and didn’t return.
“We asked the officials and they thought it was a clean play,” said Atlanta coach Larry Drew.
Horford, who missed four of the seven games of last year’s seven-game playoff loss to the Celtics, is always missed when he’s not in there. But so is Garnett for Boston.
“With him in the lineup, it does have a little bit of an effect,” Drew said of Horford, averaging 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season. “But we just did not do a good job defending off the dribble tonight.”
The Celtics went 11 for 23 from 3-point range in the game, hitting six 3-pointers in the second quarter. Their 118 points matched a season high and their 66 in the first half were the most in a half this season.
Mike Scott led the Hawks, who went 2-2 on a four-game road trip with a career-high 19 points off the bench. Josh Smith had 18 points, but he was just 7 for 23 from the floor, 0 for 6 in the second half after scoring 16 points in the first half. Jeff Teague had 17 points and seven assists.
“We thought we had a chance to go 3-1 but it didn’t work out tonight,” said Teague.
The Celtics won the season series, 3-1.
The Hawks used an 8-0 run to take a six-point lead 3:12 into the second quarter, but the Celtics scored 32 points in the final 8:29 of the half to lead by 10 at the break. It started with an 8-0 run over just 53 seconds, Terry starting it with back-to-back 3-pointers. He went 4 for 5 on 3-pointers in his 16-point half.
NOTES: Heat president Pat Riley was critical of Boston general manager Danny Ainge for being critical of LeBron James for complaining about getting roughed up on the court. Riley said Ainge should “shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team.” Ainge replied with “He’s right, I should manage my own team. I did complain as a player. And I’m right. LeBron should never complain.” Rivers, asked about the verbal battle, said, “I think it’s cool. I think they should duke it out.” But he added the executives won’t affect the rivalry, “unless they are playing.” … The Hawks open a four-game homestand against Orlando on Saturday night, while the Celtics get a quick rematch (of Tuesday night’s loss) with the Knicks in New York on Sunday night before visiting Minnesota Monday. … Rajon Rondo, out for the season after knee surgery, made his first appearance on the Boston bench. “It was nice,” said Rivers. “He’s moving OK. It’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at.” .. Atlanta’s Kyle Korver hit a first-quarter 3-pointer, his 66th straight game with at least one, the fifth-longest streak in NBA history.
Knicks 111, Bobcats 102: J.R. Smith scored a season-high 37 points, his third straight game with more than 30, to lead the New York Knicks to their seventh straight victory, a 111-102 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony added 32 and Raymond Felton had 16 for New York (45-26). The Knicks have the NBA’s longest current winning streak — and without center Tyson Chandler.
The Bobcats (17-55) entered the game with the worst record in the league, but had improved on it recently, winning three of their last five.
But Gerald Henderson led Charlotte, scoring 35 points. Kemba Walker, who scored 18 points, saw the end of his streak of three games with 20 or more points.
The Knicks opened a 69-47 halftime lead, the second straight game in which they entered the half with a lead of more than 20 points Smith led New York at the break with 23 points, while Anthony added 17 and Felton scored 10.
Henderson led the Bobcats with 14 points at the half and Walker added 11.
The Knicks also led by as much as 30 for the second straight contest and watched their huge advantage shrink to single digits late in the game.
New York controlled the contest nearly from the jump as the Knicks went on a 21-4 run after Henderson scored the first basket of the game.
Anthony scored 10 points during the run and Iman Shumpert added eight.
The Knicks led by double digits less than midway into the first quarter and Charlotte did not get the deficit under 10 until the final three minutes.
The Bobcats did finally cut the Knicks’ biggest lead of 30 down to seven, after an 18-6 spurt in the fourth quarter, capped by a layup by Josh Roberts to make it 102-95 with 2:02 left.
But, as they had when the Memphis Grizzlies threatened a late comeback, the Knicks held on for the win. Smith responded with a basket and, after Henderson made two free throws to cut the lead to seven with 32 seconds left, Anthony hit two more free throws to help seal the game.
Kenyon Martin then blocked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s shot and a review overturned a goaltending call before the Knicks boosted the lead back over 10.
NOTES: Chandler was out for the ninth straight game with a bulging disk in his neck. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before the game he was not sure when Chandler would return, and that the team was taking a cautious approach with its All-Star center. … As per his lost wager with Anthony, Indiana alum Woodson held an orange in his hand while addressing reporters at Friday morning’s shootaround. Anthony, who led Syracuse to the 2003 national championship, emerged victorious along with Syracuse when the Orange beat Indiana to advance to the Elite Eight on Thursday night. … The Bobcats announced center Byron Mullens was a late scratch with a sore left ankle. Mullens is averaging 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. … To celebrate Knicks legend Walt Clyde Frazier’s one-of-a-kind styling, beguiling persona on his birthday Friday, the Knicks handed out bobblehead dolls of the former guard and current announcer. The doll, as was Frazier, wore a cow-print suit, just one of the many wardrobe selections that prompt the Knicks to feature a popular “Clyde’s Closet” segment at home games.