As the owners of the worst record and the largest negative point differential in the NBA, the Bobcats will not win any beauty pageants with their style of play. Their method, if it can be called a "method," seems to fall somewhere between controlled chaos and just plain chaos.
When the Bobcats closed within four points of the Celtics late in the fourth quarter of Monday's game, the Bobcats might even have believed they had the Celtics right where they wanted them.
The Celtics still employ Paul Pierce, though, and nobody wins ugly like Pierce.
In a disjointed game that featured 54 fouls and 74 foul shots, Pierce reveled in the total lack of rhythm in an otherwise forgettable game. The Celtics forward quietly scored a season high with 36 points and added 10 rebounds with three blocked shots as the Celtics squeaked by the feisty Bobcats 100-92.
"He was in attack mode for us the entire night, and that was good for us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We needed that."
The Celtics (27-22) are an admitted jump-shooting team, and early on the shots fell. A win meant they moved into a tie with the Philadelphis 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division (although Philadelphia holds the head-to-head tiebreaker), and the Celtics had to feel confident about their chances to rise in the standings when their lead grew to 18 points in the first half.
By halftime the difference was only two points. Most of the Celtics seemed unsure of how to handle the Bobcats' surprising competitiveness. On offense, Charlotte kept going to shooting guard Gerald Henderson, who had no trouble with Avery Bradley's defensive pressure, and on defense the Bobcats fouled, fouled and fouled some more.
Among the members of this Celtics team, Pierce is the only player who is built for a game like this. Recognizing that the officials were calling the game tightly, he drove and drove again, muscling into a bramble of hacks to lead Boston's steady procession to the free throw line.
Pierce attempted 16 of the Celtics' 43 free throws, hitting 13 of their 32 made freebies. The Celtics crushed their previous season highs in free throw makes and attempts, which they set against the Thunder on Feb. 22 in a 29-for-34 foul shooting performance.
Pierce admitted his aggressiveness was a result of the situation on the court, both in regard to the officiating and the injury-related absences of Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus.
"When you've got two guys [out] who give us so much offensively in Ray and Mickael Pietrus, I just try to be a little more aggressive than usual, whether that's getting to the line or getting up a few more shots," Pierce said. "I think I'm a bit of a versatile scorer in that I can score the ball and create for others."
As the game wore on, Pierce's primary defender, Corey Maggette, grew more exasperated with each foul. Meanwhile, Pierce grew stronger with every tweet of the whistle. This was Pierce's type of game.
The uglier, the better.
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