ATLANTA, Nov. 23 (Ticker) -- All the Atlanta Hawks needed was a game against an Eastern Conference team.

The Hawks became the last team to win a game this season, ending a season-opening nine-game slide with a 120-117 victory over the Boston Celtics, who remained winless on the road.

NBA TV highlights from
Al Harrington scored a season-high 34 points and rookie Salim Stoudamire added 19 for the Hawks, whose odd schedule had them playing Western Conference teams for the first three weeks of the season.

"It's a big relief," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I know it's a really big relief in the locker room. We played every Western team pretty tough and had an opportunity to win some games. ... And I thought tonight they did some good things to position themselves to win."

Atlanta got some help from Boston forward Raef LaFrentz, who in the final 90 seconds missed an open 3-pointer, threw a pass out of bounds and allowed Hawks center Zaza Pachulia to grab a crucial offensive rebound.

The game featured 20 ties but none after Stoudamire's technical foul shot gave the Hawks a 99-98 lead with 10:20 to play. The lead was one point on five more occasions, the last time at 111-110 after a bank shot with 3:52 left by Boston's Paul Pierce, who scored 33 points.

"It seemed like we played 50 games and lost them all," Stoudamire said. "It feels good."

"We were playing with frustration," swingman Josh Childress said. "We worked hard every day and for some odd reason it wouldn't fall our way. ... (In this game), we made plays. We got defensive stops, we made free throws."

Harrington answered with a jumper and Stoudamire sank two free throws for a 115-110 advantage with 2 1/2 minutes to go. Boston's Ricky Davis made a pair from the line, but LaFrentz missed a potential tying 3-pointer.

"I've just had enough (of losing)," Harrington said. "My message was to get it done tonight. I think everybody played with a sense of desperation, and we were able to get it done."

The Celtics had another chance to get closer, but LaFrentz passed up an open jumper and whipped a pass out of bounds with 1:05 left. On the next possession, Pachulia wrestled a rebound away from LaFrentz, drawing a foul.

"We mentally break down when teams make a run at us, instead of staying together," Pierce said. "The toughness plays are the ones we're losing all the time. When we need a stop, when we need a rebound - that all comes down to mental toughness. ... If they sold mental toughness in a store, I would purchase it for everybody. But they don't. It has to come from within."

Pachulia, who had missed two free throws in the final seconds of an 85-84 loss to Memphis on November 12, sank these two for a 117-112 lead with 33 seconds left.

"It worked out," Pachulia said. "We played pretty good on both ends (of the floor). It's a great feeling."

Pachulia had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 56 percent (40-of-72) from the field.

"They deserved to win," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought Zaza Pachulia singlehandedly outworked our entire team. I thought he was the single toughest warrior on the floor."

Davis scored 25 points and LaFrentz added 18 for Boston, which shot 55 percent (40-of-73) but dropped to 0-4 on the road.

Atlanta held a 61-60 halftime lead behind 24 points from Harrington. Pierce, who scored just six points in the first half, tallied 16 in the third quarter, which ended in a 96-96 tie.