May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Pierce scored 21 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 90-84 win in overtime against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.
In other games last night, the Philadelphia 76ers topped the Chicago Bulls 79-74 and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 99-74.
The Celtics and the 76ers each took a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series. The Lakers are ahead 2-1 in the Western Conference series.
At TD Garden in Boston, Boston’s Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Rajon Rondo earned a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson hit a 26-foot 3-pointer to tie the game at 80-80 with one minute, 23 seconds left in the game. Trady McGrady missed a layup and Willie Green couldn’t connect on a 21-foot jumper to win the game for the Hawks.
After Rondo’s driving layup and Garnett’s 17-foot jump shot missed their marks, Pierce failed to score at the buzzer on a 21-foot jumper to force the overtime.
The Celtics outshot the Hawks 10-4 in overtime to win. The Celtics host the Hawks tomorrow in Game 4.
Johnson had 29 points and Jeff Teague 23 for the Hawks.
At Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes had 21 points and Jrue Holiday added 17 for the 76ers, who host Game 4 tomorrow.
Carlos Boozer tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds and Richard Hamilton contributed 17 for the Bulls.
At the Pepsi Center in Denver, Ty Lawson had 25 points and JaVale McGee came off the bench to score 16 for the Nuggets, who host Game 4 on May 6.
Kobe Bryant scored 22 points and Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers.
In tonight’s games, the Indiana Pacers with a 2-1 series lead visit the Orlando Magic; the Los Angeles Clippers try to break their 1-1 tie when they host the Memphis Grizzlies; the Oklahoma City Thunder can sweep the defending champion Mavericks 4-0 with a win on Dallas’ home court; and the San Antonio Spurs are in Salt Lake City to extend their 2-0 series lead against the Spurs.
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