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Bob Ryan

Guests didn’t show up

Shelden Williams takes to high road to prevent a layup by Gerald Wallace. Shelden Williams takes to high road to prevent a layup by Gerald Wallace. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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By Bob Ryan
Globe Columnist / October 29, 2009

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Two games into the 2009-10 season and we’ve already had two great staple games of Celtics Past.

1. The big road win over Cleveland on Opening Night.

2. Last night’s 92-59, pick-the-wings-off-the-fly destruction of the Charlotte Bobcats.

And to answer your question, no, the Celtics aren’t that good, at least not yet. What we saw last night before the usual TD Garden sellout crowd of 18,624 is what happens when a middlin’ team minus its two best shooting guards (Flip Murray and Raja Bell) and with a pair of starting big men easing themselves back into the lineup from the ranks of the injured (Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw) shows up to play a very good team.

But it’s still the NBA, and even the no-names have a great deal of skill. It wouldn’t be asking too much of the Bobcats to break 60, would it?

“I did a hell of a coaching job; that’s my first thought,’’ deadpanned Bobcats coach Larry Brown. “Our team wasn’t prepared, wasn’t ready to play. That’s the fault of the coach.’’

When you’ve coached at this level as long as Larry Brown has, you’ve pretty much seen everything, good and bad. But there might not have been too many evenings during the past 35 years when Brown coached a team that, in addition to failing to reach 60, was in serious danger as the fourth quarter approached the midway point of failing to produce a double-digit scorer. But Gerald Wallace made a foul shot with 8:40 left that enabled him to crash into dubs with 10.

And that’s how it ended. One double-figure scorer on an NBA team. It’s truly a box score to remember.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this game is that the Celtics really didn’t play very well. They were quite lackadaisical in the second quarter, for example, refusing to get back on defense while allowing the Bobcats, who had zero leads in this game, to creep within 32-29 with 4:38 remaining in the half.

A 10-2 run got it up to 11 (42-31) by intermission, but things were far from secure, which led to the following halftime exchange:

Interested observer to Doc Rivers: “That half wouldn’t exactly make me an NBA fan.’’

Rivers to interested observer: “Me, either.’’

And then Doc went on to say how much he “feared’’ the Bobcats, whom he termed “explosive.’’

Oh, he meant it, all right. This Charlotte team has been a major nuisance for the past two seasons from a Boston point of view. The great championship team of 2007-08 was life-and-death with the Bobcats on at least two occasions. And then there was a double-OT squeaker the last time they met. Rivers wasn’t kidding.

Turns out he had less than nothing to worry about. Now, you would think that an NBA team starting a game by failing to score for the first 4:58 would have had its worst basketball behind it. You would, of course, be wrong, because the Bobcats began the third quarter by going scoreless for the first 6:08.

By the time Gerald Henderson (yup, son of) nailed a foul-line jumper to get his team on the board, the Celtics had scored the first 15 points of the half and were ahead by 26. Soon they would be up by 30 at 63-33. The mathematically inclined among you have already figured out that we are talking about a 31-4 run.

From that point on, the pertinent questions were as follows:

Would the Bobcats score 10 points in the third quarter?

When would we see Lester Hudson?

When would we see J.R. Giddens?

Would the Bobcats score 63 and thus not establish a new franchise low?

Would the Bobcats even score 60 and avoid the embarrassment of scoring below the basketball equivalent of the Mendoza Line?

Would Larry Brown ask Michael Jordan to trade the entire team?

Did anyone even know where Michael Jordan was?

When would we get the first 2009-10 Gino moment on the Big Board?

The Bobcats did avoid the ignominy of a single-digit quarter, but not by much. It took a 17-foot runner by Raymond Felton at the third-quarter buzzer to make it happen.

We did see Hudson, and the rookie from Tennessee-Martin got on the stat sheet almost immediately with a nice pass to Marquis Daniels. We did see Giddens, and he came up with a steal. We got the Gino moment quite early, during a timeout with 5:43 left (76-50, so you’d have to say it was appropriate for the occasion). For those of you keeping score, the musical selection for the first Gino sighting of the year was “Shake Your Booty.’’

One more thing: There is a new “Lucky.’’ He was kind of inconspicuous until it was time to show off his trampoline dunk skills in the fourth quarter. He missed his first try at a twisting dunk and was booed. Tough crowd, you know?

A win is a win, but the Celtics had better not delude themselves into thinking they can half-step it the way they did for long portions of this one and beat a team in possession of all its weapons. They’re good enough to beat a team as depleted as Charlotte by playing in spurts and by curing whatever is ailing them at any given time by making some threes.

Sooner or later, real opponents will be on the schedule. Like the Chicago Bulls, for example. Anyone recall what they were like to deal with only last spring?

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist and host of Globe 10.0 on Boston.com. He can be reached at ryan@globe.com.

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