Fast Break: Pierce, Celtics take down Bird, Bobcats
|02.07.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
BOSTON — All went according to plan for the Celtics in a 94-84 defeat of the Bobcats. Captain Paul Pierce climbed another rung on the team’s all-time scoring list, passing Larry Bird for No. 2 behind John Havlicek, and the C’s picked up their season-best fifth straight victory and ninth win in their last 10 in the process.
PIerce amassed 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Celtics (14-10) reached four games over .500 for the first time this season. The remaining Big Four and Brandon Bass (13 points) all reached double figures as well (Kevin Garnett 22, Ray Allen 17 and Rajon Rondo 10).
UConn’s Kemba Walker totaled 16 points and seven rebounds in defeat for the lowly Bobcats (3-22).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
A Bird in hand: With 10:22 remaining in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game against the Bobcats, Pierce passed Larry Bird for No. 2 on the team’s all-time scoring list. After 13-plus seasons in a Celtics uniform, the 34-year-old Pierce entered the game needing just nine points to tie (and 10 to pass) Bird, who finished his 13-year career with 21,791 points. After scoring seven first-half points to close within two of Larry Legend, The Truth made his fourth 3-point attempt to clip Bird’s wings.
KG’s hot start: Garnett made four of his first five field goal attempts and reached double figures by halftime. He even attempted another 3-pointer, which he missed (But he can shoot 3s, Ok!). Rivers has been on KG all season to assert himself into the offense more regularly, and Garnett did just that — leading all Celtics scorers with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with seven boards.
Rounding into form: For much of the season, somebody in the Celtics nine-man rotation (the starters plus Bass, Mickael Pietrus, Chris Wilcox and Avery Bradley) has either been sidelined or still recovering from injury. Not so against the Bobcats. All played, and all — with the possible exception of Wilcox — played admirably. Five of the nine reached double figures, Rondo recorded double-digit assists for the third consecutive night, O’Neal grabbed eight rebounds and Bradley made both of his field goals while playing his usual pesky defense and spelling Rondo for the entire fourth quarter. The C’s are hitting their stride.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Pursuing Bird: Once Pierce reached seven points in the second quarter and closed within two of Bird’s career scoring mark, the Celtics offense fell apart in their collective effort to get their captain open for a 3-pointer to eclipse Larry Legend. Pierce missed a trio of treys, Allen passed up a wide open 3 and the C’s turned the ball over trying to force the record. Bass appeared the lone member of the team still interested in playing team basketball for that stretch.
Porous defense: The Bobcats made 15 first-half field goals, and nine of them came around the basket. Too often the likes of Boris Diaw and Reggie Williams found themselves wide open underneath the hoop for easy buckets. That shouldn’t happen for the league’s second-ranked defense, especially against those guys.
Mullens center: It’s worth repeating: Thunder GM Sam Presti‘s preseason trade of 22-year-old 7-footer Byron Mullens to the Bobcats for a second-round pick was a curious one. Mullens played 26 minutes for Charlotte, registering 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and six rebounds. A guy like that wouldn’t have looked so bad in green.
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