Kevin Garnett, who sat out with a strained left adductor in his thigh, was the only Boston player who officially got the night off, but several other Celtics got a chance to relax as well in a runaway victory. Paul Pierce played just nine minutes in the second half and Jeff Green logged 12 as Doc Rivers went to his bench early.
Shavlik Randolph bounced off the bench to lead the Celtics with seven rebounds. Courtney Lee recorded a career-high three blocked shots. Pierce had eight assists. Jason Terry had a game-high 15 points as every Celtic scored at least five points. It was an all-around performance on a night the Celtics were looking for revenge.
Lee, Bradley, Terry and Green helped hold Gerald Henderson to 16 points, a small victory considering how on fire he has been recently. Jannero Pargo led Charlotte with 18 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 2:56, Celtics 101-86: If the Celtics can just find a way to rein in Jannero Pargo, they may be able to put a lid on this game. Since the 7:45 mark, Pargo has outscored the Celtics 11-6 and helped narrow Boston’s 26-point advantage to just 13.
The Celtics still appear to have enough of a cushion to walk out with a fairly comfortable win, but they are lucky to have built up that lead as large as they did.
Fourth quarter, 5:45, Celtics 97-79: With a little less than six minutes to go, Rivers wants to make sure his troops hold on to this one. Nobody on the Celtics other than Williams has scored in the last four minutes, and it is just Boston’s good fortune that Williams has five points in that span.
The Bobcats have outscored the Celtics 13-5 since Randolph’s dunk earlier in the quarter, and since then both the offense and defense have not looked as sharp. Rivers appears to be sticking with a reserve unit of Randolph, Wilcox, Williams, Crawford and Terry, giving his starters some rest while seeing if these guys can figure it out.
Fourth quarter, 10:50, Celtics 88-66: OK, Bobcats. Now might be a good time to panic.
Crawford and Terry, who have been a surprisingly effective backcourt duo for Boston, have now scored the Celtics’ last 11 points. Terry opened the fourth quarter with a bucket from Wilcox and Crawford pulled up on the break for a three to prompt a quick timeout by Mike Dunlap, Charlotte’s coach. Dare we say Garnett might miss Gino time?
End of third quarter, Celtics 83-66: The JET has arrived.
Just when the Celtics were about to go into one of those lulls they have a way of going into against the Bobcats, Terry drained a three and the net hardly moved. After Byron Mullens canned a triple of his own, Terry went back to almost the same spot and hit another three.
A long day for TD Garden gets a break in about 12 minutes. Right now it looks like that may end with a Celtics victory.
Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 65-53: They finally did it. The Celtics finally broke through the nine-point cap they seemed to have on their lead in the first two-plus quarters, and they did it with spacing and defense.
The Celtics are spreading the floor on the Bobcats, forcing the Cats to extend and figure out how to guard the Celtics in space. Bradley dribbled off a ball screen and found nobody stepping up to stop him, so he pulled up for a wing jumper to extend Boston’s lead to 10 points. Then, Lee gobbled up the ball after a defensive stop, caught Walker backpedaling and pulled up for a free throw line jumper to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game.
Third quarter, 8:52, Celtics 57-49: The Celtics hold a comfortable lead, but they are not playing with the edge one might expect. This is the squad that blew them out just a few days ago, after all, despite owning the worst record in the NBA.
Still, so far the Celtics have done just enough to keep the Bobcats at arm’s length. That approach was not good enough Tuesday, and it is doubtful it will be good enough in this one unless someone on the Celtics takes control soon.
Halftime, Celtics 50-43: At least Henderson did not score again.
The Celtics still cannot seem to break through the nine-point threshold against the Bobcats. They have led by that amount three times, and each time they have allowed the Bobcats to answer with a run to close the gap. But Henderson did not score at all in the second quarter as Rivers threw a combination of Lee, Bradley and Green at him, so there is that.
The Celtics still exchanged baskets with Charlotte a bit too much in the first half, but they did clamp down on defense a little toward the end. They let Charlotte shoot just 35 percent from the field and held them to 1-for-6 shooting from long range in the second quarter, while getting energetic contributions from White and Randolph.
Walker is now the game’s high scorer with 10 points, but the Celtics are putting up points evenly. The Celtics have five players with at least five points and seven players with at least four points at the half. Williams is the only Boston player who has played who has not scored.
Second quarter, 5:06, Celtics 40-36: In all seriousness, we may be witnessing the pinnacle of Randolph’s pro career here. In 10 minutes of action — emphasis on “action” — the 10-day contract signee has four points, five boards and two steals. He also forced a jump ball at the defensive end and got a basketball thrown off his groin by a Bobcat.
Hey, you have to take the good with the bad when you’re on a 10-day.
We will see how long this lasts. Biyombo, all 120 pounds of him, backed Randolph down in the post and nestled home a hook shot. Randolph is clearly comfortable, though. He grabbed Biyombo’s arm as he fell to the court, then had the temerity to act surprised when the foul was called on him. He is playing like he belongs, say that much for him.
Second quarter, 8:39, Celtics 33-28: Hopefully every fan bought a program. Otherwise they might have a difficult time telling who these players are.
Rivers has cleared his bench, giving Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White all minutes early. White has done some nice things, hitting a jumper and finishing an and-one dunk (although he has missed all three of his free throws), as well as assisting a nifty one-handed jam by Chris Wilcox.
End of first quarter, game tied 24-24: Turnovers have hurt the Celtics lately, particularly against teams that most folks would consider inferior to them. That has been an issue for the Celtics again so far.
The Celtics committed five turnovers in the first quarter, tossing the ball around to almost literally throw away every lead they took in the opening 12 minutes. Henderson is off to another strong start with eight points. He had 22 points in Friday’s win over the Raptors, so the Celtics are not the only team he lights up. The Celtics might want to keep an extra defender in his vicinity.
First quarter, 2:45, Celtics 22-18: Once again, the Bobcats will not let the Celtics leave them in the dust. A 3-pointer by Avery Bradley gave Boston its largest lead of the game at nine points, but Henderson (of course) drew a hard foul from Pierce and went to the line to spark Charlotte. The Celtics’ lead now is down to just four, as the Bobcats threaten to make things interesting for them yet again.
First quarter, 5:14, Celtics 15-11: Courtney Lee gets the first call to defend Henderson, the guy who torched the Celtics for a career-high 35 points four days ago. The results have been mixed, with Henderson once again getting the better of the matchup more often than not.
Henderson hit three of his first five shots and already has six points. he is tied for the game-high with Brandon Bass, who is extremely active as the de facto center. Bass already has two rebounds and is a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
6:47 p.m.: Has the NBA instituted a new rule that keeps the Celtics from being at full strength whenever they play the Bobcats?
Kevin Garnett will sit out Saturday against Charlotte, Celtics coach Doc Rivers informed reporters prior to the game. The coach said Garnett “wasn’t moving well” and “wasn’t feeling well” on Friday with a “whole body” issue, but the team is describing the reason as an adductor strain in Garnett’s left leg.
Paul Pierce will be in the lineup after missing the previous meeting with the Bobcats in Charlotte on Tuesday. Jeff Green will start in Garnett’s place.
8 a.m. ET: If the Celtics are looking for ways to improve off Tuesday’s 26-point loss to the Bobcats, they can start by not letting Gerald Henderson score 35 points. That is just a thought.
Henderson and the Bobcats (14-51) are in town to face the Celtics (35-29), the only team they have beaten in their last 12 games. The Bobcats still own the NBA’s worst record, but they can boast two wins this season over the Celtics, with a chance at a third.
With Paul Pierce expected to be back in the lineup and no back-to-back situation, there is no built-in excuse for Boston this time. Revenge has been strong in the Celtics’ hearts ever since they took care of business against the Raptors on Wednesday, as they were unable to do against the Bobcats the night before. From Pierce to Jason Terry to coach Doc Rivers, several members of the Celtics spoke with an edge at practice on Friday. This is the stretch run, and the Atlantic Division title and a more favorable playoff seed are in the Celtics’ sights.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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