Celtics romp past Bobcats, 105-88
BOSTON - The Boston Celtics, playing without a banged-up Kevin Garnett, cruised to their 11th straight home victory, a 105-88 win over the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night.
The win gave the Celtics a measure of revenge against the lowly Hornets, who have beaten them twice in Charlotte this season, the second time by a whopping 100-74 just last Tuesday.
The victory moved the Celtics into a three-way tie with Chicago and Atlanta for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, two games out of the important No. 4 position (the last spot with homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs).
With Garnett out, all five Celtics starters reached double figures, as did Jason Terry, who led all Celtics with 15 points off the bench.
Paul Pierce, who wasn't needed in the fourth quarter, had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds as the Celtics improved to 16-6 since losing guard Rajon Rondo for the season to knee surgery.
Recent signee Shavlik Randolph had eight rebounds and six points in 15 minutes off the Boston bench as all 11 available Celtics scored at least five points.
The Celtics went 10-for-15 from 3-point range.
Gerald Henderson, who scored a career-high 35 in last week's win over Boston, scored 16 points but Jannero Pargo, in his second game since signing with Charlotte, led the Bobcats with 18 points. Josh McRoberts had nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics had runs of 7-0 and 9-0 and led 20-11 after 7½ minutes, but a 9-0 spurt by the Bobcats tied the game at 22-22. The Boston bench then helped the home team stay ahead in the second quarter - where the Celtics again went up by nine - only to have Charlotte run off eight straight to cut the deficit to one. An 8-0 run got the Boston lead back up to nine and it was seven at the half.
But the third quarter was no contest as the Celtics, with 33 points, broke the game open, building the lead to 18 and leading by 17 after three. They quickly grew the lead to 26 in the first 1:53 of the fourth quarter and it was over.
The Bobcats did go on a 12-2 run to cut their deficit to 13 with 3½ minutes left. They got no closer.
NOTES: Garnett, who missed his second game of the year (the other was for a rest Feb. 22 at Phoenix), was wearing a brace on his left wrist after Wednesday night's win over Toronto, but his absence Saturday night seemed to be due to a leg injury, probably general soreness. "Kevin's not playing tonight - not because it's a night off. He wasn't moving well yesterday in practice or today (at the shootaround)," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "So we're sitting him." Rivers had "no idea" if Garnett would play against the Heat on Monday night. With Garnett out, Jeff Green started and jumped center. ... Rivers, talking about the 1-2 record against a team that came into Saturday night's game 12-50 against everyone else, said, "Honestly, in the three games (this season), the one thing they've done consistently is beat us off the dribble. All of them, Gerald Henderson and all their guards, even their bigs are beating us off the dribble."