Hawks soar to season sweep over Celtics

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The surprising Atlanta Hawks completed their first season sweep of the Boston Celtics in 11 years, posting a 100-91 home victory in an Eastern Conference showdown Friday.

Joe Johnson scored 16 of his 27 points in the final quarter to help the Hawks leapfrog the Celtics in the race for second place in the East with their fourth win of the campaign over Boston. Cleveland holds top spot.

"We won't stick our chests out yet, but we can stand straight up and look them eye-to-eye," Atlanta's Jamal Crawford told reporters after the Hawks won for the fourth time against Boston this season.

"I was kind of fired up," Crawford told reporters, "but I wasn't too worried about it. They can knock me down, and I'll get back up. I know my team mates got my back."

He had 11 points and four assists in 13 minutes after coming off the bench in the first quarter of a physical game.

"They thought they were going to come in and bully us," Atlanta forward Mo Evans said. "We had that same mentality. We were going to be physical and protect our home court."

"Bodies were flying around everywhere," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

Paul Pierce led Boston's scoring with a season-high 35 points.

The Celtics scored 32 points in the third quarter to pull within a point at 74-73, but an 11-4 run to start the fourth secured the win for Atlanta.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford and John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)