Atlanta, GA – Josh Smith posted 22 points and 18 rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks hung on to defeat the Boston Celtics, 83-74, in the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Smith became the first Hawk to register 22-plus points and 17-plus rebounds in a playoff game since Moses Malone had 24 points and 17 rebounds in Game 4 of a first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks in 1989.
Jeff Teague added 15 points and six rebounds, while Kirk Hinrich nailed four three-pointers en route to 12 points for Atlanta, which fell to Boston in seven games the last time these two combatants met in the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Rajon Rondo, who was ejected with 41 seconds remaining in the game for chest bumping an official following a foul call on Brandon Bass, finished with 20 points and 11 assists.
"As I was walking I thought he stopped, my momentum carried me into him," Rondo said of the chest bump. "I even think I tripped on his foot. I didn't intentionally chest bump him, but that's what it appears to be."
Kevin Garnett netted 18 of his 20 points in the second half for Boston, which trailed by as many as 19 points. Paul Pierce had just 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
The Celtics were 0-for-11 from beyond the arc.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is slated for Tuesday at Philips Arena.
Boston used an elongated 23-9 surge that spanned between the third and fourth quarters to get back into the contest. Garnett had six points during the run, which Bass capped with a jumper, pulling the visitors within 73-68 with 3:29 remaining in the final quarter.
"We knew they were going to be able to calm their nerves down and be able to get back to the way they play basketball," Smith said of Boston's comeback.
Teague's right-wing triple and floater, sandwiched around Garnett's jumper, made it 78-70 in favor of Atlanta with 1:58 to play.
But after Garnett's layup and Paul Pierce's jumper whittled the deficit to four with 1:01 left, the game turned ugly as the star point guard Rondo was thrown out of the contest.
Following a scramble for a loose ball, Bass was whistled for a foul on Smith. Rondo argued with official Marc Davis, who quickly called a technical. Rondo then bumped him with his chest and was subsequently tossed from the court.
"That's out of my control," Rondo said when asked if he'd be suspended for Game 2. "Obviously I want to be there for my teammates, but other than that, I have no control right now."
Joe Johnson split the technical free throws and Smith made a pair from the line for an 81-74 lead. After Garnett missed a turnaround jumper, Teague made two free throws with 32 ticks remaining to seal the win.
"We didn't feel the pressure of needing to get a bucket, that's just us being able to be in the playoffs for multiple years and understanding situations," Smith said of Atlanta's midset when the Celtics charged back into the game.
The Hawks stormed out of the gate early, jumping out to a 20-6 lead midway through the opening frame. Hinrich hit a pair of triples, while Smith netted five points during the surge.
Atlanta led 31-18 after a quarter of play before heading into the locker room with a 49-35 edge.
The Hawks held a commanding 64-45 advantage late in the third before the Celtics charged back.
The last time Boston was held without a three-pointer in a playoff game was in Game 2 of a 1993 first-round series against the Charlotte Hornets...Ray Allen missed his 10th consecutive game with an injured right ankle. He is day-to- day...Johnson finished with 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting...Atlanta outrebounded Boston, 50-41.