CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The first time the Celtics gave one of their veteran leaders the night off this season, they blew out a terrible team on the road.
When they tried that tactic Tuesday against the worst team in the NBA, the Celtics were the ones who looked terrible, and they were the ones who were blown out.
With Paul Pierce sitting out to rest, the remaining Celtics embarrassed themselves against by far the worst team in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats, who snapped their own 10-game losing streak by crushing Boston, 100-74, at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Entering the game, the Bobcats had lost 45 of their last 51 games and had lost their last 10 games by an average of 21.5 points.
Yet, this was the same Charlotte team that snapped a losing streak and ended a Celtics winning streak when the Bobcats beat Boston, 94-91, here on Feb. 11.
The Celtics trailed by three at halftime and then fell on their faces in the second half, when Charlotte used a 12-3 run out of the locker room to take a double-digit lead.
The Bobcats never looked back, leading by as much as 20 in front of a sparse crowd mostly occupied by Celtics fans. Doc Rivers effectively waved the white flag by inserting both D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph into the game in the fourth quarter.
Gerald Henderson punished the Celtics with a career-high 35 points and Ben Gordon added 17 off the bench.
In all, it sure wasn’t the performance that the Celtics received when Garnett sat out against Phoenix on Feb. 22. Jeff Green started in Garnett’s place, scored a season-high 31 points and the Celtics won by 25, their largest margin of victory this season.
Fourth quarter, 5:26, Bobcats 89-68: That is not a typo. Your computer does not have some virus. That is, in fact, the score of this NBA game. The Charlotte Bobcats are steamrolling the Celtics and have led by as much as 24. This one is over. If it shows anything, it’s that the Celtics probably shouldn’t rest Paul Pierce anymore.
Third quarter, 2:17, Bobcats 73-60: So, the Bobcats have pretty much just been toying with the Celtics. Charlotte has led by as much as 13 and the Celtics haven’t shown any signs of coming back. Gerald Henderson has scored 31 points; his career-high is 32.
Third quarter, 7:36, Bobcats 61-49: The Bobcats are on a 12-3 run to open the second half and the Celtics are looking pretty terrible. Gerald Henderson scored 19 points in the first half and he has five more early in the second. The Celtics have missed six of their first seven shots to open the second half.
Third quarter, 9:30, Bobcats 56-46: Charlotte opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Kevin Garnett is really struggling. After shooting 5-of-19 against Oklahoma City, he’s 1-of-7 with 3 points against the Bobcats. Maybe Doc Rivers gave the wrong player the night off?
Halftime: Bobcats 49, Celtics 46 Gerald Henderson averages 13.4 points. Gerald Henderson scored 21 points in the first half, including hitting a shot to beat the buzzer. The Celtics are shooting well (52 percent, 19 for 36) and are receiving balanced scoring (10 players have scored), but their defense, especially on Henderson, is garbage. Also key is free throws; Charlotte has made 14 of 17, Boston has made 5 of 8. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each have 9 points to lead the Celtics.
Second quarter, 2:44, tied at 39: Just a quick note to point out the free-throw disparity. Bobcats have made 12 of 15 from the charity stripe while the Celtics have made 3 of 6. This is looking a lot like the Celtics game in Oklahoma City, when the Thunder, as Doc Rivers said, “crushed” the Celtics at the free-throw line.
Second quarter, 3:51, Bobcats 37-35:Not a banner day for the Celtics, who, even without Paul Pierce, are losing to a team that has lost 10 straight games by an average margin of 21.5 points. Not a lot of effort or energy from them at all. Nine Celtics have scored, so there is balance, but their defense has been subpar to say the least.
Second quarter, 6:26, Bobcats 30-28: Doc Rivers is giving Shavlik Randolph and the other new players some serious run here early. Kevin Garnett had a nice rest before checking back in. The Celtics’ leading scorer is Jordan Crawford, who has hit all three of his shots and has 7 points. Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson has a game-high 13 points.
End of the first quarter: Celtics 20-19: Yeah, this isn’t going to be one for the record books. There’s a sparse crowd here, with the majority of the customers wearing green, and they’ve all been watching a pretty ugly, slow-paced game thus far. Near the end of the quarter, Shavlik Randolph, who played up the road at Duke, made his Celtics debut. On the floor with him was D.J. White, Jeff Green and Jason Terry, a lineup the Celtics could only roll out there against the Bobcats.
First quarter, 3:54, Celtics 14-13:The Celtics are on a 14-5 run and four players have scored. They’ve hit 6 of their 12 shots, most of which have come against the Bobcats’ matchup zone defense.
First quarter, 8:40, Bobcats 8-2: The Celtics missed their first four shots and had three turnovers while the Bobcats jumped out to a 8-0 lead. No, really. The Bobcats, a team that has lost 45 of its last 51 games, led the Celtics 8-0. Jeff Green hit a jumper to help the Celtics avoid being shutout.