Final, Bobcats 100-74: The Gerald Henderson Show made an appearance in Charlotte on Tuesday, and the Celtics had a front-row seat. Henderson, the son of the former Celtics guard, dropped a career-high 35 points on his dad’s former team. He shot 11-for-19 from the field and 12-for-12 from the line.
Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each had 14 points to tie for the team-high in a disappointing loss for the Celtics. Coming off a road loss to the Thunder on Sunday, the Celtics figured to have a chance to build another winning streak before next week’s showdown with the Heat. Instead, they will have to take care of business Wednesday against the Raptors in the second leg of a back-to-back and make good use of their two days off after that to get some revenge against these Cats on Saturday.
Fourth quarter, 5:47, Bobcats 89-65: The Celtics finally found someone who can stop Henderson. And that is Henderson himself.
Henderson caught the ball on the left block with Terrence Williams on his back, and slapped away Williams’ arm. The move earned Henderson an offensive foul, and he picked up a technical foul for good measure when he tried to argue with the official.
That pretty much is the extent of the times Henderson has touched the ball in this game that something good hasn’t happened for Charlotte.
Fourth quarter, 8:25, Bobcats 83-65: When the Celtics tip off at TD Garden on Wednesday, they will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak.
Sure, it is still early, but with Pierce out and Garnett apparently due for a long rest, the Celtics do not seem to have anything to offer for a comeback. Even Bradley, who typically never takes a moment off, got caught being lazy. After forcing Gordon to miss a 3-pointer, Bradley stood idly instead of boxing out and allowed Gordon to grab his own offensive rebound.
End of third quarter, Bobcats 76-61: While everyone is debating whether the Pacers, Knicks or even the Nets might be the best first-round matchup for the Celtics, one thing is clear. The Celtics should be happy the Bobcats will not qualify for the playoffs, because the Cats would almost definitely sweep the Celts out of the postseason.
Henderson is still scoring at will, adding another 10 points to his halftime total to check in with 31 points after three quarters. On the opposite side, nobody on the Celtics has truly stepped up to fill Pierce’s void. Green has 14 points but on just 4-for-11 shooting, while Garnett is 1-for-8 from the field and Bradley is 3-for-9.
Third quarter, 2:51, Bobcats 71-59: If the Celtics plan on making a run, their time may be running short. After a corner three by Gordon, who now has 12 points off the bench, the Celtics trail by that amount late in the third quarter.
Keep in mind that Pierce is out of the rotation, so the Celtics have to figure out how to win this without two of their three All-Stars. Sure, the Bobcats are not good at all, but even they can beat a team missing two of its best players. They are pros, after all.
Third quarter, 7:37, Bobcats 61-49: If Green is ever to be more than a nice, complementary player, he needs to step up in situations like this. The Celtics are struggling to get to the rim against the Bobcats, and Green is pretty much the only active player capable of doing so with Pierce sidelined. Yet Green has attempted only one shot, an elbow jumper, so far in the second half. Like his Boston brethren, he has not gotten any shots going to the hoop.
Halftime, Bobcats 49-46: Henderson deserves to be on a good team someday, or at least he would if he weren’t a dirty Duke alum. (Kidding, kidding… kind of…) The fourth-year swingman has played the good soldier in Charlotte through a lot of losing, and he is showing the Celtics what he is capable of.
Henderson, the son of the point guard who helped the Celtics win the 1981 and ’84 titles, has 21 points at halftime. That gives him just six fewer points than all five Celtics starters combined.
The Celtics have cut down on their turnover troubles, but once again they are well behind their opponent in free throw attempts. The Bobcats are 14-for-17 from the stripe while the Celtics are 5-for-8. Some might take that as a reflection of slanted officiating — we won’t name any names — but it is anything but. The Bobcats are simply capitalizing on some green players in the Celtics rotation, who are not as quick rotating on defense. Look no farther than Randolph, who has three personals.
Second quarter, 5:48, game tied 32-32: If anything sums up the Bobcats, it is the fact that a Celtics lineup made up of Garnett, role players and 10-day contract guys can stick around with the Bobcats’ regulars.
Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens, two immensely flawed players, were able to do some positive things on the offense end, which is really the only end they can do anything positive. It helped that they were guarded by Crawford and Randolph, respectively.
Second quarter, 8:45, game tied 25-25: Anybody who says “They don’t play defense in the NBA” is, first and foremost, completely clueless. But I digress.
Anybody who says that needs to take a look at the current Celtics’ lineup. Randolph, Crawford and White can bring tons of energy, with all three showing off their offensive skills with baskets already, but they look frazzled on the defensive end. That is not surprising given that two of the three were playing in China a month ago, while Crawford was playing in Washington, which is kind of the same thing, basketball-wise. Still, it is the reason Charlotte has been able to stay close despite their own issues.
End of first quarter, Celtics 20-19: Rivers might not explicitly say he takes an opponent lightly, but he is speaking volumes with the lineup on the floor. The Celtics finished the opening quarter with D.J. White, Shavlik Randolph and Jordan Crawford all on the court. None of them was on the team three weeks ago and two are on 10-day contracts.
Crawford has given the Celtics just enough offense to stay in the lead, even if it is slight. Crawford bounced home a short driving floater and then hit a jumper to protect Boston’s advantage heading into the second quarter.
First quarter, 2:39, Celtics 16-14: Bradley’s improved shooting has been a big part of the Celtics’ improvement. Now that the third-year guard can knock down an open shot, he is more than a one-way player and can now help the Celtics at both ends.
Bradley knocked down a three to give the Celtics their first lead of the game, and then things got a little chippy. Needlessly chippy, actually. Henderson drove baseline and was fouled by Chris Wilcox, who tried to catch Henderson and keep him from falling. But as Henderson came down, Biyombo needlessly pushed Wilcox, causing Wilcox to jerk back Henderson’s arm.
After some posturing, Wilcox was given a technical foul that should be taken away once the NBA reviews it.
First quarter, 5:37, Bobcats 12-8: This certainly has not started out the way the Celtics envisioned.
With Pierce out of the lineup, the Celtics missed their first four shots and fell behind 8-0 before Jeff Green finally made a jump shot to put Boston on the board. Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley each followed with buckets to knot it up, but the Celtics are having trouble with Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Cats wings have 10 of Charlotte’s 12 points in the early going.
6:35 p.m.: The Bobcats are so bad…
How bad are they?
The Bobcats are so bad, they will once again start Josh McRoberts, the sixth-year forward who had trouble finding a consistent place in the Magic’s plans this season. Since McRoberts came to Charlotte in the middle of the season in a deadline trade for Hakim Warrick, McRoberts has averaged 18.5 minutes per game and is expected to make his second start in nine games on Tuesday.
The projected starters, including McRoberts, appear below.
5:55 p.m.: Through the first 62 games of the season, Paul Pierce could boast of never having to miss a game even if his 35-year-old legs could have used a rest. Now, Pierce will get that much-needed blow.
Pierce will sit out Tuesday’s game in Charlotte, finally accepting coach Doc Rivers’ open offer for him or Kevin Garnett to take a seat at any time. That makes Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green (who gets the start in Pierce’s place) as the only players to participate in every game this season for the Celtics.
8 a.m. ET: Just when the Celtics saw their five-game win streak snapped, they received the best gift the schedule can give: That is, a home game against the Bobcats.
The Bobcats (13-50) arrive having lost 10 straight, their second double-digit losing streak of the season, and they have become every bit as bad as their record suggests. That was not necessarily the case earlier in the season, when they played squads like the Heat and Lakers tough and even beat the Celtics (34-28) back in January. Since Feb. 22, though, every single one of their losses has been by double-digits.
This could be the start of a helpful stretch for the Celtics, if they take care of business against some overmatched opponents. A home-and-home with the Cats bookends a matchup with the Raptors, and after a highly anticipated meeting with the Heat at TD Garden, the Celtics have winnable road games in New Orleans and Dallas. The Celtics have a chance to make a serious push for one of the top four playoff seeds.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. ET.
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