"Lapsadaisical" Celtics Foreshadow Remainder of Season

November 13, 2004


   While the word, a Gary Payton original, does not appear in any dictionary, it perfectly describes how the Celtics played during the first half last night at the FleetCenter.

Lapsadaisical covers mental lapses and lackadaisical play. It explains why they struggled early against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats before recording a 91-74 win. It also captures the kind of inconsistencies that have plagued Boston in wins and losses. Only by overcoming lapsadaisical tendencies and setting a more aggressive tone in the second half did the Celtics find a way to extend their winning streak to three games.

"All of us came out saying, 'This is the Bobcats,' but they're a good team," said Payton (12 of his 15 points in the second half). "We were really lapsadaisical. [Coach] Doc [Rivers] came to me at halftime and said, 'It starts with you. You've got to start motivating and picking us up.' I went out there and gave him what he wanted. I picked us up. We got a lead. We held it. We just needed to pick it up one more level [in the second half]. We did that."

With the teams tied, 41-41, at halftime, Payton took it upon himself to "make things happen," most noticeably by going to the basket, though he did spark an early third-quarter run with a 3-pointer. The 12-3 spurt pushed Boston ahead, 57-48, with 4:04 remaining in the quarter. After a pair of steals (by Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz), Payton sustained the run with a layup on the break. Layups from Mark Blount and LaFrentz followed, as well as a free throw from Payton. Ricky Davis (game-high 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) capped the spurt with a 19-footer.

On a night when Pierce (10 points, 3 for 13 from the floor) struggled to score, Davis picked up the slack, exercising judicious shot selection as he went 9 for 16 from the floor. For the first time since arriving last season from the Cavaliers, Davis led the Celtics in scoring in a winning effort.

"I guess that's our style, just going out there waiting for that big run to come," said Davis. "As soon as we can get out there and spark it, we'll get people shooting well and getting good shots. Guys are definitely getting the feeling that if you give the ball up, you'll get it back. We've made big steps sharing the ball. Everything's rolling good. We've got a great coach you just want to go out and play your heart out for. So, I'm having fun."

One medium-sized run wasn't enough to put away the pesky Bobcats, who closed within 4 points (57-53) when Eddie House (team-high 15 points) hit a 13-footer with 2:09 left in the third. After collecting the third of his four steals, Pierce found Davis for a layup on the break to start a 9-2 run.

Rookie Al Jefferson capped the spurt with a slam dunk that gave Boston a 66-55 advantage. The second run featured a number of players from the second unit, including Jefferson, Marcus Banks, and Jiri Welsch. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter ahead, 68-57, and clearly in control.

With reserves playing much of the final quarter, the Celtics were able to stretch their lead. A 3-point play by Banks (13 points, 4 assists) gave Boston a game-high 19-point advantage with 31.6 seconds to play.

"It was an ugly game, but we managed to pull it off," said Pierce. "We made some strides off the bench. Our bench was able to relieve us and push the lead up. It was good for [the younger guys] to get out there and get the confidence that they can play and relieve the starters.

"This is a group that we're going to need down the road because we're going to have games like we did tonight."

The Bobcats would have enjoyed a lead at intermission 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 as many as 7 points (26-19) with 11:06 left in the second.

A quick 9-2 run, capped by a fast-break layup by Banks, evened the score at 28 with eight minutes until halftime. Boston took its first lead, 32-30, when Pierce found Jefferson for a layup in transition. 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 onto the ball, as Charlotte forced 13 turnovers for 21 points.

"We didn't play well the first half, but at halftime it was a tie score," said Rivers, whose charges held the Bobcats to 40 percent shooting for the game. "And I'll take that. Obviously, it was not the way you want to come out. I thought we came out flat. But we stuck in there and we played good defense.

"It's exactly what we were talking about before the game. If your offense is not clicking, if you just dig in on defense, you can still win the game."

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