al horford

Al Horford missed most of the season.

Now that he’s back, the Atlanta Hawks center wants to keep it going as long as he can.

In his first start since January, Horford scored 19 points, hit Atlanta’s final two baskets and came up with a potentially season-saving defensive play that allowed the Hawks to hang on for a frenetic 87-86 victory over Boston in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs Tuesday night, cutting the Celtics’ lead in the series to 3-2…

In addition to pacing the Hawks in scoring, he grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out three assists, came up with three steals and blocked three shots - all while playing more than 31 minutes, far more than the Hawks intended…

Boston had a chance to end the series when Rajon Rondo stole Josh Smith’s inbounds pass with 10 seconds remaining and raced down the court, looking for the winner. But the point guard got hemmed in along the sideline when Horford jumped out to defend him, which caused Rondo to lose control and fling a desperation pass. Smith knocked it away, the ball rolling harmlessly out of bounds as the horn sounded…

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 16 points apiece. Rondo had 13 points and 12 assists, and the last of his five steals gave Boston a chance to clinch the series early and get some much-needed rest…

Josh Smith clearly looked hobbled by a sore knee that kept him out of Game 3, but still managed 13 points and 16 rebounds. Jeff Teague had 16 points, while Johnson and Marvin Williams had 15 apiece, giving Atlanta double-figure scoring from all five starters in a revamped lineup.

– Reported by the Associated Press