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Celtics just cover big number vs. Bobcats

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BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Celtics finally found a way to beat the team with the NBA's worst record.

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Actually, it was several ways as the Celtics avenged an embarrassing loss earlier in the week at Charlotte by routing the Bobcats 105-88 on Saturday night.

Paul Pierce had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, cheering on his teammates from the bench as they beat the Bobcats for the first time in three tries this season.

``It wasn't a sense that we owed them one. It was a sense that we need to play better against them and we need to keep playing well at home,'' said Pierce, who also had three blocks. ``It's about us playing well and playing the right way.''

All five Boston starters scored in double figures and all 11 players who dressed for the Celtics scored at least five points. The only player in the official lineup that didn't score was Kevin Garnett, who sat out to rest a strained muscle in his left thigh.

Even without Garnett, the Celtics played nothing like the team that was humbled by lowly Charlotte twice this season. Two of the Bobcats' NBA-low 14 wins came against the Celtics, including a 100-74 blowout in Charlotte on Tuesday. Pierce rested that game and the team captain was quite critical of how the Celtics played.

The message apparently registered.

``They whooped us back at their place, so we wanted to come out, be aggressive and send the message,'' said Jeff Green, who started for Garnett and finished with 10 points.

Avery Bradley scored 13, Courtney Lee had 12 points and five assists, and Brandon Bass scored 10 for Boston. Jason Terry led Boston's reserves with 15 points and Shavlik Randolph, signed earlier in the week to his second 10-day contract, had six points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Jannero Pargo led Charlotte with 18 points. Gerald Henderson had 16 points, Kemba Walker scored 14 and Josh McRoberts pulled down 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who lost for the 12th time in 13 games.

The Celtics made 10 of 15 3-pointers, outrebounded the Bobcats 42-35 and outscored Charlotte 38-30 in the paint.

``I thought defensively it was pretty disappointing,'' Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said. ``I think we're a better defensive team. We proved that the last time we played them.''

Charlotte's only win during the recent slump was Tuesday against the Celtics, when Pierce rested. Pierce rested again Saturday, but only after 23 minutes of guiding the Celtics to their 11th straight win at home.

The Celtics are home again Monday for a showdown with the streaking Miami Heat.

``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.''

Boston closed the second quarter on an 8-2 run and led 50-43 at halftime, then continued pulling away throughout the third quarter while shooting 65 percent (11 for 17).

The Celtics opened the period 7 for 9 and scored eight straight during a 12-2 run that put Boston up 70-55 on a 3-pointer by Lee. Pierce added a 3-pointer with 3:24 left, then headed to the bench with the Celtics up 75-57.

``We gave up the rim and they were able to get out in transition and also hit their 3s,'' Henderson said. ``We settled for a lot of jump shots and we didn't get to the rim like we want to.''

Boston led 83-66 after three and let the reserves open the fourth. Chris Wilcox dunked on an alley-oop and Randolph drove the baseline for a dunk, capping a 9-0 run to start the period and putting Boston ahead 92-88.

Charlotte fell behind 26-24 on Wilcox's dunk 16 seconds into the second quarter and trailed the rest of the way.

Notes: Both teams had nearly identical lines at the end of the first quarter - shooting 10 for 19, making 2 of 4 3-pointers and 2-of-2 foul shots in the 24-all tie. The Celtics had an 11-5 rebounding advantage. ... The TD Garden crew had a quick turnaround, converting the arena in time for the game to start about 3 hours, 45 minutes after the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 earlier Saturday. ... Garnett has played 63 of the team's 65 games this season, only missing a win in Phoenix when he was rested after attending the All-Star game. ... Charlotte is 6-28 on the road. ... The Bobcats have never won a season series against the Celtics. ... A photographer was knocked woozy when Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo ran into him on the baseline late in the fourth quarter.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
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