End of game, Celtics win 100-92: Paul Pierce scored 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Kevin Garnett scored 24 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 assists as the Celtics beat the Bobcats in something that sort of resembled a basketball game.
The Celtics (27-22) pulled into a tie with the Sixers for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Bobcats (7-40) became the first team in the league to 40 losses and tightened their stranglehold on last place in the NBA.
Fourth quarter, :30.5, Celtics 99-92: The Celtics let the Bobcats hang around in this game for far too long. If not for Garnett finding his stroke and Bass attacking the glass, this one could have been headed for a Celtics loss.
Bass nudged into inside position on D.J. White three times. Twice on the offensive end, Bass established position and was ripped down by White. On the defensive end, he helped prevent a layup by Mullens and then gobbled up the rebound.
Garnett missed two long jumpers before stepping inside the foul circle and nailing a jumper to re-establish the Celtics' two-possession lead.
Fourth quarter, 4:46, Celtics 92-83: Henderson is one of the few guards who can say he was fairly effective against Bradley. When Bradley was sent to the bench with five fouls, Keyon Dooling replaced him.
Dooling is not the defender Bradley is (not even close) and Henderson easily sidestepped Dooling on a cut to the hoop for a one-handed dunk. Henderson has posted a solid game with 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
Fourth quarter, 5:18, Celtics 92-81: As part of his game-high 31 points, Pierce led the procession to the free throw line for the Celtics. Pierce knocked down one of two free throws for his 31st point, 12 of which came at the foul line.
Pierce had 14 of the Celtics' 37 free throw attempts. Brown led the Bobcats by going a perfect 8-for-8 from the line. No other Bobcat had taken more than five freebies.
Fourth quarter, 8:51, Celtics 87-77: Part of the disjointedness of this game has to do with the constant stoppages for fouls. There have been 45 personal fouls given out in this game and foul trouble could be the one thing that derails the Celtics. Bradley was forced to the bench for a hand-check foul, his fifth, and Garnett also go into dangerous territory with his fourth foul.
End of third quarter, Celtics 82-75: Look at the box score and it appeared Pierce was on his way to a huge game after three quarters. The Celtics forward had 27 points, nine rebounds and three blocks with 12 minutes of game time to go.
Pierce's production was quiet, though, in a game that had absolutely no rhythm. The Bobcats occasionally seemed primed to make a run before fizzling out or committing a bonehead foul to halt their momentum. The most interesting moment was Stiemsma blocking a dunk attempt by Brown, who then began talking to Stiemsma. Stiemsma's response drew a technical foul on the rookie big man.
Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 69-58: Mullens did not factor into the first six minutes of the second half, and coincidentally any semblance of offense by the Bobcats disappeared.
The Bobcats were actually being outrebounded by the Celtics 24-17, which might be the biggest upset of this game.
There's been a lot of difficulty by Bobcats fans in courtside seats holding onto their beers. A spilled beverage delayed the tip-off of this game and an errant pass caught a high-paying spectator square in the pint moments ago. This being the land of NASCAR, you'd think these folks knew how to hold on to their suds.
Third quarter, 9:55, Celtics 61-52: As goes Bradley, so go the Celtics. That has been the case in the last two games at least.
Bradley got into the open court and scored twice in the first 1:19 of the second half, helping the Celtics extend their lead from two points back to a comfortable nine-point margin. The Celtics' offense can stagnate since Garnett, Bass and Pierce do not cut to the hoop often. Usually, Ray Allen dominates the off-ball movement by running of screens toward the 3-point line. By dashing toward the hoop instead of away from it, Bradley adds a wrinkle to Boston's sets.
Halftime, Celtics 52-50: The Celtics' halftime box score suggested a team that led by 18 points. That's exactly how many points the Celtics led by — at one time or another.
A 35-19 second quarter in favor of the Bobcats whittled the Celtics' lead down to two points at the half. Paul Pierce had 17 points, Kevin Garnett had 13 points and Rajon Rondo had nine assists, but they were powerless when the Bobcats burst back into the game.
The Good: Greg Stiemsma was active in his 9:33 of floor time. He only scored two points, but he played good defense with one blocked shot, two steals and three rebounds. Just as importantly for him, he did it without picking up a single foul. … Gerald Henderson played for Coach K at Duke, so you know that he knows the game. A few of his teammates could use a few practice sessions with the Blue Devils. Henderson shot 3-for-6 and had three assists with zero turnovers in a solid first half. … Garnett may not admit it, but Byron Mullens had a heck of a first half. The third-year pro from Ohio State scored 11 points and added four rebounds with two blocks, playing one of the key hustle roles in the Bobcats' climb back into the game. … Reggie Williams is a good player. See the previous update.
The Bad: Tyrus Thomas is an empty 6-foot-9, 215-pound vessel. Charlotte's starting power forward hit one shot and blocked three shots, but he seemed to give up as many shots as he denied. Corey Maggette played just as poorly, missing all three shots he took and picking up two personal fouls.
The So-so: Avery Bradley stayed active by cutting to the hoop, but either his teammates were not as effective getting him the ball or he wasn't taking routes as sharp as he did on Sunday. Bradley scored six tough buckets but also missed four other shots and was whistled for two fouls.
Second quarter, 1:30, Celtics 50-45: It may sound odd, considering the Bobcats seem to have every failed lottery pick from the past eight years, but if you were poaching this team for players, you might want to start with Reggie Williams.
Williams, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of Virginia Military Institute who broke into the league from the D-League on a 10-day contract with the Warriors in 2010, came off the bench and hit two of his first three shots. He also tallied three assists with no turnovers and two rebounds.
The Bobcats are plus-13 with Williams on the floor.
Second quarter, 5:36, Celtics 40-36: The Bobcats' reserves put up more of a fight than their starters and helped Charlotte squeeze back into the game. Unfortunately for everyone, "fight" was not far off from how they got back into the game.
Mullens and Garnett developed an ongoing jabber session and Derrick Brown collared Rondo on a dribble drive. A few shots began to fall for the Bobcats, who outscored the Celtics 21-7 to open the second quarter.
End of first quarter, Celtics 33-15: Tyrus Thomas, Byron Mullens and Biyombo were first-round draft picks, but undrafted rookie Stiemsma made them look silly in the first 12 minutes.
Stiemsma showed off his skills at both ends of the floor when tip-blocked a Mullens shot attempt and drove the lane to pass back to Ryan Hollins, who drew a shooting foul.
Hollins, meanwhile, showed off length and athleticism the Celtics have not enjoyed in a while. The recent signee ran the floor to catch an alley-oop pass from Rondo, and it wasn't one of those kinda, sorta oops that Rondo has thrown to Bradley, Wilcox or Garnett. This was a high pass, a high catch and a strong throw-down by the 7-footer.
First quarter, 2:07, Celtics 27-13: Greg Stiemsma has developed into more than just a big guy who can jump around and block a few shots. He stayed on the ground when Kemba Walker leapt to make a pass, only jumping at the last second to grab Walker's pass out of midair.
Stiemsma's steal started yet another fastbreak for the Celtics, who have looked like the younger, more aggressive team in the first 10 minutes. Rondo racked up five assists rather easily, with no turnovers.
First quarter, 5:20, Celtics 17-13: D.J. Augustin, a 6-foot point guard, did not take kindly to Rajon Rondo posting him up repeatedly in the early going. Even little guys have some pride about getting taken into the post.
Rondo's post-ups were fruitless, except for a shove Augustin gave Rondo to pick up a foul. With Rondo in the post, Kevin Garnett shifted outside, where he knocked down two jumpers before finishing a tough layup by taking some contact from Bismack Biyombo.
6:45 p.m.: The NBA gave the Celtics the best gift a team can receive after a long road trip. After eight games away from home, the Celtics were presented with the league's two worst teams on back-to-back nights.
The Celtics also benefit from Charlotte's lack of depth in the frontcourt. Eduardo Najera is suffering from right knee inflammation and DeSagana Diop is out with a right hamstring strain, so Bobcats fans are in for a treat: Lots of Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens!
The Celtics trail the Sixers by a half-game in the race for the Atlantic Division, so a win would move them into a nominal tie for first place. But the Sixers hold the first tiebreaker by way of beating the Celtics in their first two meetings of the season, so the Celtics would still trail unless the Sixers lose to Cleveland on Tuesday.
Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus are out once again, as expected Avery Bradley will try to follow up on his career-high 23 point performance from Sunday.
The probable starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m. The Celtics continue their two-day tour of the NBA's doldrums when they visit Charlotte on Monday.
The Bobcats (7-39) are the worst team in the NBA, three games behind Sunday's opponent, the lowly Washington Wizards, in the Southeast Division standings. The Bobcats have not won consecutive games all season and lost 16 straight games at one point. They are coming off a loss to the Nets, who occupy last place in the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics (26-22) will be looking for their second consecutive win and a chance to pull into a tie with the 76ers for first place in the division.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m.
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