The Boston Celtics certainly enjoy playing the Charlotte Bobcats. Boston had already authored 33- and 18-point blowouts of the Bobcats, and they added a 24-point crushing of the Michael Jordan-owned team on Wednesday night.
Boston was paced by Paul Pierce and his game-high 27 points, while the Celtics also saw Nate Robinson sink four of six 3-pointers to check in with 16 points off the bench behind Rajon Rondo, who tallied eight points and six assists.
Marquis Daniels received a ton of playing time, too, and delivered with an impressive performance. The bench as a whole was sensational, as well. Only Marcus Landry was inactive.
Tyrus Thomas led all Charlotte scorers with a scant 15 points, and the team as a whole didn’t make one 3-pointer despite attempting nine of them.
Celtics 104, Bobcats 80
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
March 3, 2010
Headliner: No question about it, it’s Pierce. The one-man wrecking crew paced the team with 27 points. Pierce was also responsible for the turning point of the game, hitting a 3-point dagger after the Celtics flushed a 17-point lead down to one in the second quarter.
Pierce made five of seven two-pointers, four of six from outside the arc, all five free throws and made three steals. With four assists, two rebounds and a block as well, he was the big dog on both sides of the court.
Unsung Hero: Tuesday, we wondered when or if coach Doc Rivers might start getting blamed for the team’s struggles. One key argument against Rivers was his reluctance to rest his starters. He must be an avid NESN.com reader, because that changed Wednesday.
When the Celtics jumped out to a 17-point lead, Rivers sent his starters to the bench and watched his substitutes give the lead away. The tactic didn’t work, but the concept was sound. Fortunately, the Boston bench got a second chance in the fourth period after the game was decisively in hand.
Marquis Daniels actually outpaced all starters (Pierce, Garnett, Allen, Rondo and Kendrick Perkins) in time on the court, playing 30 minutes and 18 seconds. Tony Allen and Robinson also saw more court time than Ray Allen.
Scrub: Stephen Jackson led Charlotte with 33:03 minutes played. Such a honor shouldn’t be reflected in a -16 plus/minus for the game. He scored a total of eight points, converting only two of six field-goal attempts and turning the ball over four times. He also had a technical. His fellow teammates didn’t exactly do him any favors, though: only Gerald Henderson finished with a plus/minus that wasn’t negative — and was at +1.
Turning Point: The Celtics were up by 17 in the first half. Fans and players alike were pleased with the renewed energy shown by the team against an opponent holding on to a playoff spot for dear life. Minutes later, Boston was up by just one and tens of thousands in the arena were thinking, “Here we go again.”
Never fear. Paul Pierce and his newly healed sore thumb dropped a 3-point bomb on the Bobcats, enlivening both his team and the Garden crowd. Two minutes later and the Celtics had built the lead back up to nine, and then the third quarter was all Green.
Up Next: The Celtics will get a day off before heading down to Philadelphia to go against the hapless 76ers on Friday. The Sixers are sans Allen Iverson and post Elton Brand is still recuperating from right Achilles tendinitis. There is a locker room crisis of sorts in Philly, too, as coach Eddie Jordan took a veiled shot at Andre Iguodala and the club’s lack of leadership on the court.
Watch out for rising star Lou Williams, though, who scorched the Hawks for 30 points in a loss on Wednesday night. He’s been struggling to find playing time, although now with Iverson gone, that’s no longer an issue.