The All-Star game, it wasn’t.
To be fair, Paul Pierce received a cut on the inside of his mouth and Al Jefferson tweaked his ankle in the third quarter. And the Celtics have no real reason to trot out injured players.
But the Celtics began the fourth quarter with a lineup of Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Ryan Gomes, Allan Ray, and Gerald Green on the floor. When Rondo picked up his fifth foul, Sebastian Telfair, who didn’t see a minute of action in Boston’s win over the Spurs last weekend, subbed in. He even guarded Gerald Wallace on a couple of possessions.
If the Celtics were trying to put their best foot forward to close out the Bobcats, it was hard to see.
After trailing by 15 at halftime, Charlotte took advantage of some generous Boston substitutions and closed to within 74-70 with 7:19 left in the game. The got to within one on a three-pointer by Raymond Felton on their next possession and took the lead when Matt Carroll drained another three on the next trip.
The Garden crowd (aren’t they supposed to want this team to lose?) booed.
Hearing the boos, Doc Rivers subbed Delonte West, Al Jefferson, and Rondo back into the game. If the Celtics were going to end Charlotte’s momentum, this would be the unit that could do it.
It was too little too late. Felton and Carroll continued their hot shooting, and Gerald Wallace was ubiquitous on both ends of the court as Charlotte reeled off 18 straight points to put the game out of reach.
Jefferson led the Celtics with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Kendrick Perkins had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Boston. Pierce had 23 points but sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Felton had 19 points and five assists for the Bobcats.
We’ll be back in a bit with comments from both locker rooms.