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Garnett rests but Celtics still win

RAY Allen scored 22 points and Glen Davis had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Boston Celtics rested Kevin Garnett and still managed a 99-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Garnett was held out of the game due to soreness from a right knee strain. He has played sparingly since returning four games ago from a knee injury that caused him to miss 13 games.

Boston coach Doc Rivers says with the regular season winding down and the Celtics (55-19) secure in a high seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the goal now is to make sure his key player is ready for the playoffs.

"He was just not feeling that great," Rivers told reporters about Garnett's absence, but said he would have been playing had it been a playoff game.

The Celtics did not miss Garnett thanks to solid contributions from the rest of their lineup.

"We showed mental toughness tonight," Rivers said. "We've got a group that believes they're going to win games.

"We got some solid contributions from some different people."

In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Cavaliers 107, Timberwolves 85; Lakers 103, Nets 95; Knicks 103, Hornets 93; Magic 110, Bucks 94; Bobcats 100, 76ers 95; Raptors 112, Thunder 96; Nuggets 103, Mavericks 101; Spurs 111, Clippers 98; and Grizzlies 113, Kings 95.

In Atlanta, the Celtics led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks closed to within four points with 1:11 to play before Paul Pierce made four free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

Pierce had 21 points for Boston.

Josh Smith led with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Joe Johnson also had 22 points and Mike Bibby scored 19 for the Hawks, who have lost two in a row and three of their last four games.

"We didn't play until the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter, and you can't beat a team like Boston when you don't start playing until then," Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson said.

Atlanta (42-31) surprised the Celtics as the No. 8 seed in the first round of the playoffs last year by winning three home games before losing the opening round series in seven games. Despite a much-improved team this season the Hawks have now lost all three meetings to Boston this year, including two at home.

"It was embarrassing to tell you the truth," Smith said.


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