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Celtics continue long road trip in Atlanta

The Boston Celtics will continue their eight-game road trip tonight against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.

The Celtics are 2-3 on the trek and have dropped two in a row at Sacramento and Denver. In Saturday's 98-91 loss to the Nuggets, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett scored 22 points apiece and Rajon Rondo contributed 12 points and 16 assists for Boston, which fell to 7-13 away from Beantown.

"We were just outworked. They got the loose balls, they got the offensive rebounds," Pierce said. "They got us on the break."

Boston will also visit Milwaukee and Philadelphia on the trek, and sits 1 1/2 games behind the 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics are also seventh in the Eastern Conference standings -- 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta.

The Hawks will play three in a row at home versus Boston, Cleveland and New Jersey, and has won three straight as the host.

Atlanta, which is 13-6 at home and sixth in the East, has won two in a row overall and six of 10 games, including Sunday's 103-87 victory over Cleveland.

Joe Johnson led the way with 28 points, Jeff Teague added 18 and Kirk Hinrich netted 14 points for the Hawks, who are sixth in the conference standings and shot 50.6 percent from the floor.

"It was very important for us to get out to a good start and sustain for 48 minutes," said Johnson.

Josh Smith scored just seven points and entered the game averaging 23.9 ppg in his last 11 contests. He has still scored 20 or more points in eight of his last 10 games. Johnson is averaging more than 20 points (25.7) since returning from injury six games ago. Atlanta is 15-2 when Johnson hits the 20-point mark.

The Hawks were without forwards Marvin Williams (hip), Vladimir Radmanovic (back) and Al Horford (torn pectoral muscle) and guards Willie Green (hamstring) and Jannero Pargo (stomach flu). They did get center Jason Collins back from a 21-game absence because of an elbow injury, although he was limited to just three minutes of action.

Atlanta and Boston are meeting for the first time since the Celtics took two of three matchups a year ago. Boston has dropped three of four games at Philips Arena.