In his first game back in Boston since the injury that knocked him out of last year's playoffs, Garnett scored 10 points with seven rebounds over 26 easy minutes and the Celtics held Charlotte to a franchise-low in scoring to coast to a 92-59 victory.
"It's great we could rest our bodies," said Paul Pierce, who scored 15 points and also sat out the fourth quarter one night after a more difficult win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. "The more rest, the better. That means we're playing well, especially the starters."
Garnett, who missed 25 games and the playoffs last year with strained ligaments in his right knee, slipped on the floor late in the third quarter and appeared to be slow getting up. But he dismissed concerns of an injury, saying he relaxed because he saw his teammates were back to protect against the fast break.
"It was just a slide into second base," said Garnett. "The umpire said I was safe."
And then he was out.
Garnett left the game with 4:06 left in the third as coach Doc Rivers rested his aging Big Three to preserve them for the long-haul regular season.
"You guys keep reminding them how old they are," Rivers told reporters. "It was time for him to come out anyway. But any time he goes to the floor and just gets up [is good]. The rarity is seeing a big guy diving to the floor with a big lead. But that's who he is and that's who you want him to continue to be."
Ray Allen was the only Boston starter to play in the fourth, scoring 18 points in all. Rajon Rondo scored 10 with 11 assists, and newcomers Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams came off the bench to help; Wallace had three 3-pointers and Williams had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Gerald Wallace had 10 points and 12 rebounds -- the only Bobcat to reach double digits in scoring.
Asked if he'd ever coached a team that scored in the 50s, Hall of Famer Larry Brown said, "I don't know if they call that coaching."
"Our team wasn't prepared. Weren't ready to play," he said. "That's nobody's fault but the coach."
Garnett went through his usual pregame routine, pumping his arms and banging his head against the basket support. He hopped around the court, pointing at the crowd, drawing cheers from the fans who believe that his injury was the only thing that kept Boston from winning back-to-back NBA championships.
Pierce took the microphone before the opening tip, alluding to last season's disappointment and promising something better in 2009-10.
"We expect great things. You see up there, there's only 17 of them," he said, pointing to the championship banners than hang from the Boston Garden rafters. "I think we need another one."
Other than that, the biggest cheers were for the scores showing the Yankees were losing Game 1 of the World Series. (LeBron James and Co.'s loss to Toronto was also a crowd-pleaser.)
One day after beating the Cavaliers to snap an 11-game losing streak in Cleveland and make an early statement about the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics returned to Boston. The home opener had fewer subplots, and even less drama.
Boston scored the first eight points of the game, then piled it on with six 3-pointers in the second quarter to take an 11-point halftime lead. The Celtics scored the first 15 points of the second half and led by as many as 30 in the third quarter.
Only Raymond Felton's buzzer-beater kept the Bobcats from equaling a franchise-low 8 points in the third quarter.
Gerald Henderson Jr. started his NBA career in the same place his father, Gerald Sr., started his. The elder Henderson, who spent the first five years of his 13-year career in Boston, was in the stands. ... Felton got hit in the mouth in the second quarter and needed 15 stitches, but he returned in the second half. ... Patriots LB Junior Seau and WR Wes Welker sat courtside. ... Technical fouls were distributed freely: Pierce and Kendrick Perkins each had one for Boston, and Wallace and Tyson Chandler picked them up for the Bobcats.