ATLANTA — Ray Allen isn’t focused on the Celtics’ modest seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings or the two-game losing streak they brought to Atlanta.

Allen, a 16-year veteran guard, insists he likes this Boston team – especially when it plays as it did in the fourth quarter against the Hawks.

Allen hit two 3-pointers in Boston’s 13-0 run in the fourth quarter and protected the lead with two free throws in the final seconds as the Celtics held on to beat Atlanta 79-76 on Monday night.

“I love what I’m seeing from this team,” Allen said, referring to the Celtics’ resiliency after their offensive struggles through three quarters.

“We could have easily been beaten tonight. We took their hit and we counterpunched.”

Kevin Garnett, who had 16 points, also applauded the Celtics’ passion.

“I don’t know why we look like we’re running in mud these days,” Garnett said. “But our fight’s there, man.”

The Celtics, who led 73-58 at the end of the run, had to survive the Hawks’ late surge.

Joe Johnson, who had 25 points, had three late 3-pointers as the Hawks rallied. Johnson’s 3 with 11.8 seconds remaining cut the lead to 77-76.

Allen, who had 19 points, made two free throws with 10.9 seconds remaining.

Jeff Teague launched an air ball on Atlanta’s final possession.

“I overshot it,” Teague said, adding he was closer to the basket than he thought on the 3-pointer that could have tied the game.

“We got lucky,” said Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who said his team escaped with the win despite “a plethora of mistakes to end the game.”

Allen helped the Celtics gain momentum for the final period by sinking a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third period. He scored on a pass from Rajon Rondo, who had 10 points and 13 assists.

Paul Pierce had 13 points for Boston, which took charge with a 17-2 run, including 13 unanswered points, after a 56-56 tie in the final period.

Zaza Pachulia had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which leads Boston by 11/2 games in the race for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I told my guys I take my hat off to them, because they very easily could’ve folded the tent when we were down (15),” Hawks Coach Larry Drew said. “We cut it to one. It really comes down to making plays at the end. We had opportunities … but we just didn’t make the plays at the end that we should have.”

The Celtics shot only 35 percent from the field through three quarters to trail, 51-50.


BULLS 85, MAGIC 59: Carlos Boozer scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds as Chicago won at Orlando, Fla.


CAVALIERS 105, NETS 100: Tristan Thompson scored a career-high 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and gave Cleveland the lead with a tip-in with 1:11 to play in a win at Newark, N.J.


76ERS 105, BOBCATS 80: Jrue Holiday had 20 points and six assists as visiting Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak.


Hawks guard Jannero Pargo is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks following an appendectomy in Cleveland on Sunday night.… The Rockets waived point guard Derek Fisher, less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.… Rockets forward Patrick Patterson was fined $25,000 for publicly criticizing officiating. Patterson’s comments were made on his Twitter account.