April 3, 2009

NBA: Boston 104, Atlanta 92

A 21-point effort by Paul Pierce Friday helped the Boston Celtics pull away in the fourth quarter and sweep the season series from Atlanta with a 104-92 win.

The Celtics led by as many as 18 points in the final period before a late Atlanta run. Boston has won seven straight regular-season games against Atlanta, although the Hawks took the Celtics to seven games in their opening-round playoff series last year.

Rajon Rondo added 20 points for Boston, winners of four straight and eight out of nine. The Celtics maintained a one-game lead over Orlando for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Boston moved within 3 ½ games of conference-leading Cleveland after the Cavaliers lost their second contest in as many nights.

Flip Murray made four 3-point shots and scored 21 points for Atlanta.

The Hawks have clinched a playoff berth and are currently in fourth place. They appear headed for a first-round series against either Philadelphia or Miami.