BOSTON - The Boston Celtics have had one important constant during the recent rash of injuries - the Big Three are still healthy.
Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 14 rebounds — one of three Boston players with a double-double — to lead the Celtics to their 12th straight win, 102-90 over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.
Paul Pierce had 15 points and 10 assists and Glen “Big Baby” Davis had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Ray Allen scored 18 points and Nate Robinson had 14 for the Celtics (21-4).
“We feel we should win the game. On most nights we’re playing three or four all-stars,” said Pierce, who played as a “point-forward” for much of the second half, handling the ball a lot and setting up Allen for open looks with solid passes.
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Boston point guard Rajon Rondo missed the game after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday’s win at New York. He’s expected to be sidelined at least a week. Center Shaquille O’Neal was also out, missing his fourth straight game with a sore right calf.
The Celtics were already without Delonte West and Jermaine O’Neal.
It didn’t matter because Pierce, Allen, and Garnett got just enough help from the role players.
The Celtics beat an Atlanta team that was called more athletic while defeating Boston in all four meetings last season.
“Kevin’s healthy,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said was the difference in the games from last season. “You can stop there, and Paul’s healthy. The funny thing is it’s the younger guys getting injured.”
Marvin Williams had a season-best 26 points and Jeff Teague had 18 for Atlanta.