THE NITTY GRITTY
No way to sugarcoat this one: It wasn't a pretty game as the teams combined to shoot 37.1 percent from the floor (think Friday's rock fight in Orlando). The Bobcats started fast, shooting 61.1 percent (11-of-18) in the first quarter while building a double-digit lead little more than five minutes in and never trailed. Old friend Al Jefferson, who had been 0-for-11 against the team that drafted him, scored a game-high 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks over 33 minutes. Boston got a team-high 19 points from Jeff Green, while Kelly Olynyk added six points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Jordan Crawford spearheaded the offense, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting with 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals over 35:22. Gerald Wallace came off the bench to provide 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists over 20 minutes against one of his former squads.
Despite trailing by as much as 16, the Celtics rallied, but couldn't quite get over the hump each time they made a second-half charge. With 8:21 to go, Boston finally made it a one-possession game, but Olynyk got whistled for a charge and Green missed two free throws soon. Charlotte was still up three when Green got whistled for a charge of his own and Anthony Tolliver hit a late-clock 3-pointer with 5:37 to play that put Charlotte up 81-75.
CELTICS GO DOWN SWINGING
Down 8 with 2:17 to go, Boston wouldn't roll over. With shades of the Miami rally, the Celtics kept charging and Jordan Crawford's three-point play with 32 seconds to play made it a two-point game. But Jefferson turned his 10th rebound of the game into a second-chance layup that put the Bobcats out front 87-83 with 17.7 seconds to go.
NAPOLI'S BEARD VISITS GARDEN
Fresh off a World Series victory, Mike Napoli sat courtside for Wednesday's game. He received a standing ovation when put on the JumboTron in the first quarter, then won the Legal Seafoods Fan of the Game (getting $100 gift card for having the best beard in the crowd). Napoli returned to his seat after halftime wearing more layers than he departed with, quite the change of pace for his post-Series adventures.
Even with Jared Sullinger (knee) scratched, Kris Humphries played only 9:47, missing the only shot he took while finishing with 1 point and 0 rebounds. ... Vitor Faverani got an uptick in frontcourt minutes instead and stayed on the court due to his rebounding (9 boards). He struggled with his shot, finishing 2-of-8 shooting with seven points, but he was a plus-10 overall. ... Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks were again healthy DNPs.
WHAT IT MEANS
Boston's four-game winning streak ended as the team fell to 4-5 (and, for those early-season standings watchers, second place in the Atlantic Division). The Celtics wrap up a three-game homestand on Friday with a visit from the Portland Trail Blazers. The second night of a back-to-back looms Saturday in Minnesota to open a three-game road trip that also takes Boston to Houston and San Antonio.