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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doc Rivers said he knew he was going to sit one of the Celtics’ “three elderly gentlemen,” as he referred to them. He just wasn’t sure which one, if it was going to be Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, or Jason Terry, all of whom are 35 and older.
The Celtics coach ultimately decided he would sit Pierce, who hadn’t missed a game yet this season. The 35-year-old would be sidelined against the Bobcats here Tuesday night, then return Wednesday at TD Garden against Toronto.
That plan didn’t work out so well.
Pierce’s absence proved enormous as the Celtics were routed by the lowly Bobcats, 100-74, at Time Warner Cable Arena. And Jeff Green struggled while starting in place of Pierce, scoring 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Rivers said he didn’t regret his decision to sit Pierce, which he said was based on two things: the Celtics’ travel schedule and the fact that Pierce seemed tired.
A long flight from Boston to Oklahoma City Saturday and then Sunday’s noon local time game against the Thunder were factors. Plus, Sunday was the day clocks moved an hour forward.
Rivers wasn’t thrilled with the early start against Oklahoma City, a nationally televised game. “That wasn’t the brightest decision our league has ever had,” Rivers said before Tuesday night’s game.
Rivers said that taking all those factors into account, he said that he would sit either Pierce, Garnett or Terry, no matter how the Thunder game turned out.
Pierce, who is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, was fine with the decision, Rivers said.
“I don’t get a lot of kickback right now when I sit one of them,” Rivers said, jokingly. “It used to be you had to fight those guys. I don’t know what’s going on.”
In terms of starting Green in place of Pierce, Rivers said, “He’s earned it.”
Green also started when the Celtics rested Garnett at Phoenix Feb. 22. It was the first game of the season that Garnett missed, and Green scored a season-high 31 in a game the Celtics won by 25 points, their largest margin of victory this season.
Green shot 2 of 11 from the floor vs. the Thunder and scored 8 points, and he struggled vs. the Bobcats, too. “We had no energy,” Green said.
Garnett struggled for the second straight game, shooting 2 for 10 with 5 points. He shot 5 for 19 against the Thunder.
“I think at some point I’m rushing a little bit,” he said. “I probably need to relax a little more. I’m trying to be better in the second half. I’m trying to be more aggressive. I’ve just got to be better, period.
“I watch a lot film. I’ve just got to get back to critiquing what I’m doing and slow down a little bit. But the shots I’m taking feel good. They’re shots I usually take. For some tonight and obviously in Oklahoma, I just can’t get anything to go. But I will be better.”
Terrence Williams dazzled Celtics fans during his first two games with the team.
But Williams has seen little floor time since those games, playing a total of 21 minutes in the next seven before he played 14 against Charlotte, scoring 3 points.
What could Williams, who entered averaging 1.9 points, do to earn more floor time?
“Avery [Bradley] needs to play bad,” Rivers said. “Really. I always tell people that. Avery and the other guys. I don’t know why we would change our rotation just to push somebody else in.”
Shavlik Randolph made his Celtics debut and scored 4 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 18 minutes. D.J. White played 16 minutes and scored 3 points and had four rebounds . . . The Celtics have played nine of their last 11 on the road.