Rapid Reaction: Celtics 100, Bobcats 89
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rajon Rondo produced the 26th triple-double of his career -- and third this season -- by registering 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists while spearheading the Celtics to their sixth straight win (even if it took a little more effort than the team might have expected against the hapless 'Cats). Paul Pierce scored a team-high 19 points despite 6-of-16 shooting (2-of-8 beyond the 3-point arc). Kevin Garnett added seven points and 10 rebounds, while Avery Bradley had a season-high 16 points with 4-of-7 shooting beyond the 3-point arc. Hakim Warrick and Ramon Session had 16 points apiece to pace Charlotte, while Kemba Walker (4-of-16, 12 points) and Ben Gordon (5-of-14, 12 points) struggled for a Bobcats squad that shot 41.8 percent overall.
The Celtics led by as much as 18 in the first half before falling asleep at the wheel against the young 'Cats who -- true to coach Doc Rivers' warning -- pounced when given the opportunity. With the lead at 11 coming out of halftime, Charlotte went on an 11-2 run to tie the game less than four minutes in. Boston didn't put the game away until a Rondo-fueled 9-0 burst midway through the fourth quarter that culminated with Rondo feeding Courtney Lee on consecutive plays (first a flashy dish for a reverse layup, then a driving kick that Lee turned into a corner 3-pointer) for an 87-74 lead with 5:33 to play.
We all knew Bradley would give the Boston defense a jolt when he returned from injury, but on Monday he did the same for the offense, hitting four 3-pointers while scoring his season-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
SULLINGER BATTLES WHISTLES
Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger picked up two fouls in three minutes in the first quarter and played only five first-half minutes. He battled through it and played 17 second-half minutes, making all four shots he took for eight points and five rebounds. And he managed to avoid the foul out.
LOOSE BALLS: HENDERSON COLLARS KG
Garnett absorbed a flagrant-1 foul when Gerald Henderson fouled him hard around the neck in the middle of the second quarter. Garnett didn't like the foul and barked at Henderson a bit, but tempers soon cooled... The Garden temperature stayed chilly, however. With the impending return of hockey (including the Bruins' intrasquad scrimmage here on Tuesday night), the Garden was especially frigid for Monday's game. Temperatures might have been unseasonably warm outside the arena on Monday, but it didn't carry over inside.
WHAT IT MEANS
This won't be remembered as the prettiest of the streak -- and Boston surely could have made things easier on itself -- but the Celtics have now won six straight and are a season-best three games over .500 (a place they haven't been since Dec. 12 before losing eight of 10). Boston has two more games on this homestand, including a visit from Doc Rivers' son, Austin, and the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday.
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