The Boston Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak Friday night against the Indiana Pacers, but things don't get easier Saturday when they visit the Atlanta Hawks.
The Celtics got back to what made them perennial championship contenders over the past five seasons on Friday in their 94-75 drubbing of Indiana - they played defense.
Boston held the Pacers to 31.8 percent field-goal shooting and 23.5 percent 3- point shooting. The Pacers committed 19 turnovers and the Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA, outboarded the Pacers, the fifth-best rebounding team, by two.
"You know, since we've been in this funk, Doc's (Rivers) been saying that throughout this tough ordeal that we have to continue to play defense no matter what we're doing," said Kevin Garnett. "Offense can not dictate defense. I feel like for the most part we did just that."
Garnett and Rondo led the way with 18 points apiece, although Garnett got ejected in the fourth quarter for being tagged with a Flagrant 2 foul on Tyler Hansbrough. Garnett may have been trying to punch the ball out of Hansbrough's hands, but the only thing that got punched was Hansbrough's face.
The Hawks dropped a heartbreaker on Friday night in Detroit to the Pistons. The Pistons dominated the game through three quarters and took a 17-point lead with eight minutes to go in the game.
Atlanta fought hard and closed it to a point. Al Horford spotted an open Lou Williams in the corner with under five seconds to go, but rookie Andre Drummond got a piece of the ball and the shot sailed wide.
"We came up a little short tonight," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "Coming into this game, the one thing we said we wanted to try and do was to eliminate momentum plays, match their physicality. For three quarters, we did not do that."
Josh Smith and Al Horford led the way for the Hawks. They combined for the only 20 Atlanta points in the first quarter and Smith finished with 20, while Horford had 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Lou Williams netted 17 and Kyle Korver went 3-for-9 from long distance for 10 points. Korver made his 1,200th 3-pointer in the third quarter.
The story against the Pistons was bench play. The Hawks bench combined for 19 points and Austin Daye outscored the whole Atlanta reserve unit himself with 20 points. The second-stringers for Detroit tallied 41 points.
The Celtics have taken 2-of-3 from the Hawks in both of the last two seasons and Boston is 5-4 in its last nine in Atlanta.