Ford Keys to the Game: Bobcats 94, Celtics 99

Ford Keys to the Game

Bobcats 94, Celtics 99

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal defies gravity and hangs in the air as he attempts an athletic layup during Boston's win.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

There’s been a lot of snow falling down in New England this week, but all it did in the Garden tonight was rain… 3-pointers.

Boston dropped eight treys on the Charlotte Bobcats tonight en route to a 99-94 win at home, but it was a back-to-back-to-back sequence that essentially sealed the game for the C’s.

That sequence was the meat of a 13-4 run that Boston began with 8:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. Shaquille O’Neal started it all off when he banked a shot off the glass from the right block after performing an unstoppable old-school spin move toward the baseline. That bucket was followed by two consecutive miscues by Shaun Livingston of the Bobcats, who turned the ball over once and then misfired greatly on a wide open 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Celtics’ bench.

His attempt was ugly, but Ray Allen’s were as pure as pure can get.

After grabbing the rebound off of Livingston’s miss, Allen nailed a 3-pointer at the other end of the court as Boston’s shot clock was running down. Then, after Livingston finally hit a shot for Charlotte, Allen hit another from the same distance to put the C’s up 84-76 with 6:07 left on the clock.

Those consecutive 3s by Allen led to a timeout by Charlotte, but the 3-point shooting didn’t stop there. Rajon Rondo added more evidence for a buzzer-beating patent when he drilled a 25-foot trey from the top of the key as the shot clock ran out on Boston’s next possession. That third straight 3 for Boston put the nail in the Bobcats’ coffin, as the C’s jumped ahead by 11 with 5:24 remaining, which was their largest lead of the game to that point.

Key Box Score Line

I hope you like your throwbacks, because Shaquille O’Neal provided another one tonight.

Shaq wasn’t a force on the glass against the Bobcats, but he dominated every other portion of the game. No one on Charlotte’s team, from Kwame Brown to Nazr Mohammed to Boris Diaw, could stop his offensive game tonight.

Shaq recorded his second-highest point total of the season, at 23, on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor. That total trails only the 25 points he scored against the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 24. Just for good measure, the Big shamrock nailed all three of his free throw attempts, too.

But it wasn’t just the offense that picked the Celtics up tonight. O’Neal chipped in five rebounds and was a force in the paint at the defensive end. He swatted away five of Charlotte’s shot attempts, which was a season high, and altered another handful.

O’Neal was able to notch these throwback numbers because Doc Rivers left him in the game for as much time as the big fella used to see during his prime. He played a season-high 35:13 tonight, which is more than five minutes higher than any other game this season.

Boston needed Shaq to come up big tonight with Jermaine O’Neal and Kevin Garnett sidelined, and Semih Erden battling through a groin pull. His response was nothing short of colossal as reminded the NBA not to sleep on him throughout the rest of the season.

Box Score Nuggets

  • The teams combined to commit only 21 turnovers (11 by Boston, 10 by Charlotte).
  • Four Celtics starters scored at least 18 points.
  • Shaquille O'Neal scored a game-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds and five blocks.
  • Paul Pierce scored 19 points in a foul-plagued 24:32 of playing time.
  • Boston's 3-point percentage (42.1 percent) matched Charlotte's overall field goal percentage tonight.
  • The Teams scored the same amount of points in the first (24 apiece) and second quarter (18 apiece).
  • Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 20 points. D.J. Augustin scored 19.
  • Rajon Rondo pushed for a triple-double with 18 points, six rebounds and a game-high 13 assists.
  • Two Bobcats attempted at least seven free throws, while no Celtics attempted more than six.
  • Tyrus Thomas grabbed a game-high nine boards.
  • Charlotte attempted 34 free throws in the game, making 27 (79.4 percent).
  • No Charlotte player made more than six field goals, while three Celtics (Ray Allen, O'Neal and Pierce) made at least seven.
  • Charlotte outrebounded Boston 42-29 overall and 13-3 on the offensive glass.
  • Boston was outscored 17-4 in second-chance points.
  • All five Celtics starters scored in double-figures.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on if Shaquille O'Neal heard him call him "Old as hell" before the game: "Yeah, yeah that was terrific. And maybe I’m going to keep doing that. I should thank you (Celtics beat writer Bill Doyle) for the assist."