When a team’s got your number, as it were, you don’t stand much of a chance winning the game.
Like the Charlotte Bobcats and their dominion over the Boston Celtics. The cunning and quick ‘Cats have run roughshod over the Celtics so far this season, and it wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t stink against everyone else…
…but that’s the nature of basketball. What are you going to do? In two games in Charlotte the Celtics came away embarrassed, the first time blowing a late lead to lose by three, then getting blown out 100-74 last Tuesday, as Boston contributed their second tally to Charlotte’s 14 total wins, the worst mark in the NBA.
So…what happened when the Celtics got the Bobcats on the parquet in TD Garden on Saturday night? Another blowout, but this time Jason Terry scored 15 points off the bench and Paul Pierce scored 14 in just 23 minutes as Boston handed the ‘Cats their 52nd loss of the season 105-88.
“We just feel like this is a building we should never lose in,” Pierce said. “Teams coming to the Garden, they’ve got to know that this is going to be their toughest game of the year. That’s the feeling and the swagger that we’re bringing.”
All five Celtics starters managed double figures, guards Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee scoring 13 and 12 respectively while low posters Jeff Green and Brandon Bass chipped in with 10 a piece. Pierce led the team in helpers with 8 while Shavlik Randolph pulled down an equal number of boards as Boston improved their record to 36-29.
So out of hand was the game by the start of the fourth quarter that every player that dressed saw time, and no one scored less than six points.
Charlotte was led by Jannero Pargo’s 18 off the bench while Gerald Henderson scored 16 and Kemba Walker 14 for the bottom feeders from North Carolina. Josh McRoberts pulled down a game high 10 boards to go with his nine points.
Charlotte came out of the gates swinging, their confidence obviously high given their recent success against the green, and hung tough through the first half – but Lee keyed an 11-2 run midway through the 3rd period and Jason Terry went on a three point spree, helping the Celtics close out the quarter with a 15 point advantage.
The lead got up to as many as 26 in the final frame, as reserves from both teams saw extended action.
The Bobcats now leave Boston for good, headed home to host the Washington Wizards on Monday followed by the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday while the Celtics have this itty-bitty little game with the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat and their 22 game winning streak at the Garden on Monday night, then embark on a brutal three game roadie that finds them in New Orleans on Wednesday, then in Dallas and Memphis on Friday and Saturday.
The tilt with the Heat on Monday night is huge for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Celtics are currently in a logjam for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but only two games out of the 4th seed and just 3 games behind the bleeding-and-on-life support New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division title.
It’s the stretch run, and no one has a tougher road to traverse than the Celtics. But the way that they are finding ways to win, the Atlantic Division crown that seemed a mere pipe dream a month ago is squarely within their reach.