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Rout is just the tonic for Celtics' veterans

BOSTON -- By the time Avery Bradley, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, sank a free throw to give the Boston Celtics a 37-point lead early in the third quarter, Paul Pierce was done for the night, riding a stationary bicycle under the stands and trying to keep his sore left knee from stiffening up.

Ray Allen went to the bench soon after to rest his ailing right ankle. He grabbed a seat near Kevin Garnett, who is about to turn 36 and played 42 minutes in the previous game -- surpassing 50,000 total minutes in the regular season and playoffs in his 17-year NBA career.

"We had a lot of things going on on our bench today with bodies," coach Doc Rivers said on Sunday night after the Celtics coasted to a 101-79 victory over the Atlanta Hawks to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. "The whole game I kept looking down there [to see if] there were enough guys to put in the game."

Pierce scored 24 points in 18 minutes before heading to the stationary bicycle in the tunnel leading to the locker room, getting some much-needed rest after the Celtics scored 16 of the first 18 points in the second half.

Boston can close out the Hawks with a victory in Game Five on Tuesday night in Atlanta. Game Six would be in Boston in Thursday, if necessary.

"Their team set the tone from the jump ball and we weren't able to recover," said Al Horford, who played for the first time in almost four months and scored 12 points. "It's disappointing for us to lose this way, but the good thing is we're going home."

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Holiday lifts 76ers

PHILADELPHIA -- His coach called Jrue Holiday's slump "0 for the world."

Even as the misses piled up, Holiday never felt the weight of it on his 21-year-old shoulders. All he could do in a thorny Game Four was laugh about his struggles with teammate Evan Turner.

"You've got to be happy when you play," Holiday said. "It really helps."

Boy, did it help Philadelphia in the final minutes against Chicago. Holiday busted out of a game-long slump with consecutive three-pointers that stretched a one-point lead into seven and helped the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls, 89-82, and take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

Spencer Hawes scored 22 points and Holiday had 20 to put the Sixers one win away from joining the short list of eighth-seeded teams that have won a series against a No. 1 seed.

Game Five is Tuesday in Chicago.

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Lakers go up 3-1

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, Andrew Bynum added 19 and the Los Angeles Lakers' stars got plenty of help from their supporting cast in a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night for a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

The Lakers can wrap it up Tuesday night when the series shifts back to Staples Center for Game Five.

Reserve Jordan Hill was big for L.A., posting a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Blake scored 10 points, including a key three-pointer in the final minute.

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