Doc and Co Make it 3 Straight


Forget for a moment that the Celtics struggled in the first half against the expansion Bobcats. Consider instead what Boston's 91-74 victory over Charlotte means to the big picture.

The win pushed Paul Pierce and Co. a game over .500 and gave them a three-game winning streak. The Celtics (3-2) now have a couple of wins at the FleetCenter to go with a victory in their lone game on the road.

Throughout last night's game, the Celtics also showed signs of a team beginning to build consistency and chemistry. For the first time since arriving in Boston, Ricky Davis (19 points) led the team in scoring during a winning effort. Pierce had a solid all-around game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Marcus Banks showed promise with 13 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Eddie House led Charlotte with 15 points, while rookie Emeka Okafor recorded 6 points and 11 rebounds.

An established team might have provided more of a fight in the second half, but the Bobcats started a slow fade in the third quarter, which continued into the fourth. Boston broke the game open with a 12-3 run in the third. The spurt started with a 3-pointer from Gary Payton and finished with a 19-footer from Davis on the break. In between, three steals (by Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, and Davis), as well as layups from Pierce, Mark Blount, and LaFrentz, kept the momentum in the Celtics' favor.

With a 3-pointer from Steve Smith and a 13-footer from House, Charlotte closed within 4 points (57-53) with 2:09 remaining in the third, but got no closer. A 9-2 Boston run, capped by an Al Jefferson fast-break dunk, pushed the Green ahead, 66-55. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a 68-57 edge, after shooting better than 50 percent in the third.

The Celtics started the fourth with their second unit and stretched their lead. When most of the starters returned midway through the period, Boston's lead continued to grow. The Celtics, who entered last night's game averaging 53.3 points and shooting 53 percent in the first half, saved something for the second half.

Arguably, it was Boston's most complete game of the season. While it may not have been pretty, Boston stayed consistent with its effort and effectiveness through four quarters.

Don't be fooled by Charlotte's standing as an expansion franchise. With No. 2 overall pick Okafor a strong presence on the glass and House capable of scoring momentum-shifting baskets, the Bobcats are a feisty mix of old and new, just the kind of team capable of pestering the inconsistent Celtics.

So, it should not have come as a surprise when Boston and Charlotte entered halftime tied, 41-41.

The Bobcats would have enjoyed a lead if not for shooting 29 percent in the second quarter. But the Celtics failed to capitalize on the visitors' struggles, managing to outscore the Bobcats, 22-19, in the quarter. Charlotte led by 7 points (26-19) with 11:06 left in the half. A quick 9-2 run, capped by a fast-break layup by Banks, evened the score at 28-28 with eight minutes until halftime.

Boston took its first lead, 32-30, when Pierce found Jefferson for a layup in transition. A 3-pointer from House pushed Charlotte back ahead (36-34). The Bobcats held a slight edge until Kendrick Perkins dunked with 21.9 seconds left in the half. But entering halftime, Boston knew it could do more to help its cause, namely holding on to the ball.

Boston committed 13 turnovers in the first half. Although it was just one more than the Bobcats, Okafor and Co. capitalized on the Celtics' mistakes and converted the turnovers into 21 points. When the Green did hold on to the ball in the first half, it was usually Ricky Davis who benefited. The small forward was the only Boston player to reach double figures in the first half, scoring 12 points.

Four of Davis's six baskets in the first half came on layups, which helped explain why Boston held a 22-14 advantage in the half in points in the paint.

No comments:

Follow by Email