NBA: Boston 101, Atlanta 79

May 6, 2012 at 10:11 PM

BOSTON, May 6 (UPI) -- Boston's Paul Pierce put in 24 points Sunday and the Celtics took a commanding lead in their first-round playoff series by whipping Atlanta 101-79.

Rajon Rondo added 20 points and 16 assists as the Celtics romped to a 3-games-to-1 advantage in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Hawks.

The Celtics led by as many as 37 points in the first half, when they connected on 60 percent of their shots from the field.

Boston will seek to close out the series in Tuesday's Game 5 in Atlanta.

Josh Smith, who missed Game 3 with a shoulder injury, returned to pace the Hawks with 15 points.

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