NBA Playoffs : Celtics Win Again, but Coach Is Not Pleased

Associated Press

For the second consecutive game, Boston Coach K.C. Jones was a sore winner.

The Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks, 108-97, Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in their NBA playoff series, but Jones wasn't pleased that Boston wasted a 25-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by only six points at halftime and needed a strong final period to win.

"It was not the smooth effort I was looking for," Jones said. "We've been doing it (squandering leads) for most of the year and last year."

Boston had a 38-23 first-period lead Wednesday night but led by only six points at halftime before winning the opener, 110-101.

The next two games in the best-of-seven series will be played in Atlanta Sunday afternoon and Monday night.

"We have a tendency sometimes to . . . play a great quarter and then go back to sleep," said Boston forward Kevin McHale, who led all scorers with 32 points. "We do it more at home. On the road, with the loud crowd, it doesn't happen as much."

Atlanta Coach Mike Fratello said: "Once again, the first quarter was not the best for us. I don't want our guys to be down. They played well both games.

"I can think of better positions to be in than down 0-2, but that's not going to change."

Although the Hawks got as close as two points, keeping them from going ahead "was a big factor," McHale said. "They're a great front-running team."

The Celtics squandered their 25-9 lead as Atlanta narrowed the deficit to 26-18, then to 45-39 at halftime and to 75-71 after three quarters.

Led by Dennis Johnson, Boston took control in the fourth quarter, starting with a 10-4 run that made the score 85-75 with eight minutes left. The Celtics led by 8 to 18 points the rest of the way and beat the Hawks for the 13th consecutive time in Boston.

Johnson scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Larry Bird had 16 points and Robert Parish 15 for the Celtics. For Atlanta, Dominique Wilkins sored 22 points and Glenn Rivers 16.

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