With Rajon Rondo suspended, and Ray Allen still not able to suit up for Game 2 of the Boston Celtics' first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Paul Pierce took it upon himself that he needs to step up big time to save his team from falling to a 0-2 hole.
Pierce single-handedly led the Celtics to a playoff win, finishing with 36 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
The Celtics wiped out the Hawks' 11-point lead in the second half, and went on to win 87-80 Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference series.
Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 22 points but he will need more help to win their series opener against Boston. The Hawks are facing the possibility of playing the rest of this series without Josh Smith, who sprained his knee in the second half.
Boston heads home for Game 3 on Friday night tied 1-1 with Rondo returning into action.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers took advantage of Derrick Rose's absence and quickly tied their series with the Chicago Bulls at 1-1.
Jrue Holiday scored 26 points, Lou Williams added 20 points as the 76ers beat Chicago 109-92 on Tuesday night.
The Bulls' superstar point guard received a standing ovation and waved to the crowd as he limped onto the court to present the game ball, then watched from a suite as the 76ers simply blitzed the Bulls in the third quarter.
Philadelphia outscored Chicago 36-14 in the period, turning an eight-point deficit into an 83-69 lead, and pulled even with the league's top-seeded team.
Joakim Noah scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Bulls in a losing cause.
Game 3 is on Friday in Philadelphia.
Out West, the Los Angeles Lakers needed a big game from Kobe Bryant to edge the Denver Nuggets 104-100.
Bryant scored 38 points, Andrew Bynum followed up his playoff-opening triple-double with 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Lakers weathered a late Denver rally, Tuesday night, to take a 2-0 series lead.
Ty Lawson, who finished 25 points and seven assists led the Nuggets' fourth-quarter come back but came up short.
Los Angeles' 19-point lead in the third quarter dwindled to four with 3 minutes to play, but Ramon Sessions scored four key points in the final 1:14 before Bryant's iced the game with his free throws with 9.4 seconds left.
Game 3 is on Friday in Denver.
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)