Balanced attack improves streaking Celtics to 16-2
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With two NBA All-Stars as teammates, Paul Pierce knows he doesn't have to shoulder the scoring load every game.
Pierce was ready when coach Doc Rivers called on him in the Boston Celtics' 89-84 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.
Pierce scored 19 points to lead six Boston players in double figures as the Celtics held off the Bobcats' fourth-quarter rally to win their eighth consecutive game.
"Doc put the ball in my hands late," said Pierce, who scored eight points during the decisive fourth quarter. "He has confidence in me, but it can be that way any given night with Kevin [Garnett] or Ray [Allen].
"But I never think about my shots. That's the beauty of this team, the sacrifice each one of us makes. I never go into a game saying I need to get this many shots. As long as we get the win, that's all I really care about."
Kendrick Perkins had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Allen added 15 points, Tony Allen had 11, and Eddie House and Garnett 10 each for the defending NBA champions, who improved to 16-2 despite playing their sixth back-to-back series this month.
"I loved what we did tonight," Rivers said. "You could see we were on empty. ... There were a lot of jump shots hitting the front of the rim, but they just found a way so I'm really proud of them."
Gerald Wallace scored 23 points, Jason Richardson had 22, and rookie D.J. Augustin 13 for the Bobcats. Charlotte shot 47.8 percent and outrebounded Boston 36-33, but couldn't overcome 22 turnovers.
"We defended great until the end," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "[But] the first half we gave up 22 points on turnovers. ... Everybody played hard and they tried, but you've got to play perfect against a team of this caliber."
Boston's winning streak is its longest since last season, when it put together 10 consecutive wins between Feb. 24 and March 12, 2008, en route to winning the team's first NBA title since 1986.
"We're grinding them out," Pierce said. "It's a tough schedule with all these back-to-back games, but it's going to pay us a favor late in the season when we don't have as many. ... Thank goodness we're getting it done in these games."
Still, the Celtics had their problems with the Bobcats, who led by eight points in the first half and rallied to make a game of it in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics led by seven points late in the third quarter and had a 66-62 edge entering the fourth quarter, but Charlotte fought back to tie it twice, the last at 77 on Wallace's layup with 3:33 remaining.
Perkins' dunk and Pierce's jumper put Boston back up 81-77, but the Bobcats twice closed within a point, the last on a Wallace layup with 1:27 left.
However, Pierce hit a free throw, then fed Garnett for a jumper with 41 seconds left to put the Celtics up 86-82. Ray Allen then hit a pair of free throws, and Pierce made a free throw to give Boston some breathing room.
"They're one of the best teams in the league," Wallace said. "We had a chance to win and we put ourselves in a position to win, there are just some little things that we've got to clean up.
"We've got to look at it like, even though it's a loss and we're mad about that, it's also a positive for us because earlier in the season this might have been a blowout."
While the Celtics struggled to find their range in the first quarter, Charlotte hit five of its first 10 shots, pulling ahead 12-4 on Richardson's free throw with 6:51 left.
The last time Charlotte won back-to-back road and home games came March 4-5, 2008, when it beat Minnesota 109-89 in Minneapolis, then returned to Charlotte to beat Golden State 118-109. ... Saturday's game was the first of a three-game homestand for Charlotte, which plays the Timberwolves on Monday and Oklahoma City on Wednesday. ... The Celtics also begin a three-game homestand on Monday, hosting Orlando, followed by Indiana on Wednesday and Portland on Friday.
Regular Season Series
BOS leads 1-0
- Mark Wunderlich
- Bennie Adams
- Tommy Nunez Jr.
2022-23 Atlantic Standings