Final: Celtics 99, Bobcats 94

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Final, Celtics 99, Bobcats 94:The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated, The Celtics led 96-85 with 1:29 left. But it was a hard-earned win for a banged-up Celtics team over a Charlotte club that’s no longer a patsy. Shaquille O’Neal led Boston with 23 points while Ray Allen scored 19 on just seven shots. Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 20 and D.J. Augustin added 19 and six assists.

Fourth quarter, 3:03, Celtics 90, Bobcats 83:Celtics are wasting chances to seal this one and D.J. Augustin just hit a 3-pointer to make it interesting. Both teams are out of fouls so Charlotte doesn’t have a lot of margin for error. Gerald Wallace has 18 points for the Bobcats and Augustin has 14. All five Celtics starters are in double figures.


Fourth quarter, 6:00, Celtics 84, Bobcats 76:Ray Allen needed to shoot more and he has, canning two key 3-pointers to create some distance, although this game is far from over. Shaquille O’Neal has carried the Celtics at times with 21 points and five rebounds. Rajon Rondo has 10 points and 13 assists.

Fourth quarter, 8:54, Celtics 76, Bobcats 72:Because of foul trouble and the fact Charlotte is has reached the free throw line 26 times, this is a ballgame, The Celtics are relying heavily on Shaquille O’Neal. Ray Allen has just five shot attempts in 31 minutes. He needs to be more active.

End of third quarter, Celtics 69, Bobcats 66:The Bobcats went to Boris Diaw in the last half of the quarter and he scored almost at will on Semih Erden, who struggled with his craftiness in the paint and also had four fouls. Erden picked up his fifth near the end of the period and the Celtics have been whistled for 19 fouls compared with 12 for Charlotte.

Third quarter, 2:45, Celtics 62, Bobcats 59:The Celtics have scored one basket in the past 3 minutes and the Bobcats are on a 7-2 run to make it close again. The Celtics bench has exactly two points tonight. Paul Pierce has 17 but he picked up his fourth foul so we won’t see him until the fourth quarter,


Third quarter, 7:06, Celtics 56, Bobcats 48:So much for that. The Celtics start the half with a 14-6 surge, fueled by Paul Pierce, who’s scored 8 points, knocking down a pair of 3s.

Halftime, Celtics 42, Bobcats 42: The fact that this is a tight-game at the half says two things. (1) The Bobcats are a drastically different team than they were a month ago. (2) Because of injuries, so are the Celtics. Typically, Charlotte’s been demoralized by the time they hit the locker room. They had 32 halftime points in their meeting with the Celtics last month. They scored 39 points two Decembers ago, missing 29 of their 42 first half shots. They scored 31 first-half points in the home opener last season, when the Celtics held them to a franchise-low 59 points. Tonight, they’re hanging in, getting scoring from nine different players while the Celtics starters are carrying the team, scoring every single point so far.

Second quarter, 5:40, Bobcats 34, Celtics 33: Slightly disturbing stat. Rajon Rondo’s assists per game(13.4) is higher than all but Steve Nash and Jose Calderon’s assists per 48 minutes. He’s got six already tonight.

Second quarter, 8:34, Bobcats 30, Celtics 26: Paul Silas said one of the change that’s boosted his player’s confidence since he’s come on as head coach is his “shoot if you’re open” policy. The Cats have taken 23 shots already. They took 71 in their loss to the Celtics in Charlotte a month ago. They’re shooting 47 percent at the moment, Augustin came back from that ankle scare and has a game-high 9, getting 5 points at the line.


End of first quarter, Celtics 24, Bobcats 24: It’s hard to make 7-foot, 325-pound monster disappear (Criss Angel isn’t even willing to pull the trick at the moment), but Shaq’s been up and down the past few games (4 points against the Spurs, 12 against the Raptors, 5 against the Bulls ,10 against the Rockets, 2 against the Kings). He’s got 4 points and four boards in a relatively fast start tonight.

First quarter, 8:08, Celtics 8, Bobcats 8: The one guy the Bobcats did not want to see grabbing his ankle was just on the baseline under the Charlotte basket grabbing his ankle. DJ Augustin tried to float one over Shaquille O’Neal and on the way down, he landed on referee Davis Jones’ foot. He stayed down, grabbing his feet. The Cats called a timeout.

Pregame: The Bobcats are playing with more confidence. The Celtics are playing with more injuries. The Celtics have won five straight against the Bobcats, four straight at the Garden. But the Bobcats are coming off a big win over the Bulls two nights ago.

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