First impressions: Celtics 104, Bobcats 80
BOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Boston Celtics posted a breezy 104-80 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night at the TD Garden:
How the game was won: Paul Pierce poured in a game-high 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting with four assists, three steals, and a block to propel the Celtics to their first laugher at home in a long time. Nate Robinson added 16 points off the bench as the Celtics pushed their lead to 20 points in the middle of the third quarter and cruised to the finish.
Turning point: The Celtics held Charlotte scoreless for a 5:25 stretch spanning into the second quarter, leaning on its full five-man second unit for the majority of that time. Boston outscored the visitors 16-0 during that span to build a 17-point lead (38-21) before Gerald Wallace’s jumper stopped the bleeding with 9:15 to play in the half. Charlotte rallied, but Boston pulled away in the second half.
Stat of the game: For the second straight night, Boston was red hot from beyond the 3-point arc, connecting on 10 of 16 attempts (62.5 percent), highlighted by a 4-of-6 performance from Robinson.
Unsung hero: Marquis Daniels got an early entrance with Ray Allen in foul trouble and responded with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, two assists and a steal. What's more, he had a game-best plus-20 in the plus/minus category.
What it means: For the first time in the calendar year, the Celtics got a glimpse of Gino (see below), their celebratory JumboTron dancer, who serenaded the crowd with his silky moves with this one never in doubt after the first few minutes of the second half. Maybe this was exactly what the Celtics needed after two months of inconsistent play. Boston has now won two in a row, no small feat these days, and has a chance to gather some momentum before a showdown in Cleveland later this month.
Play Podcast The ESPN Boston High School football crew previews the 2014 high school football season.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL reporter Field Yates covers expectations for Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots' outlook, LeSean McCoy's injury and Alex Smith's contract negotiations with the Chiefs.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Justin Havens discuss how teams that made major deals have fared since the deadline. Plus, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on the strange circumstances caused by weather.