Ford Keys to the Game: Bobcats 84, Celtics 94
Bobcats 84, Celtics 94
There were two near-guarantees heading into tonight’s matchup between the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.
The first was that the Celtics would come out on top and advance their season-long winning streak to five games.
The second was that Paul Pierce would pass Larry Bird for second place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.
Boston handled Charlotte and led for nearly the entire game, including an 18-point cushion at one point in the second half. Thanks to the relatively easy win, tonight’s Key Moment will focus in on that second near-guarantee that came to fruition. This night was all about Pierce.
Pierce headed into this contest nine points shy of Bird on the team’s scoring list and 10 points shy of holding the second spot all to his own. He and his teammates opened up the game by pressing the issue and trying to get Pierce over the hump, but the captain made just two of his five shots in the first quarter, leaving him with five points.
Pierce played the entire first quarter and did not return to the game until 7:02 remained in the first half. Shortly after his return, Pierce drilled a 17-foot jumper to put himself within two points of Larry Legend. He was now within striking distance, but the big moment wouldn’t arrive until far later in the game.
The captain went on to miss his next five shots as the crowd gasped at the release of each and every one of them. He said after the game that he could easily hear those gasps and that they affected him while he was on the court. Pierce just wanted the moment to be over so that he could enjoy it and move on to the other business at hand: defeating the Bobcats.
His wish finally came true with 10:23 remaining in the third period, when Rondo found him open for a 3-pointer on the right wing. It took a little bit of body English to get the ball to fall through the basket (see picture to the right), but when it finally did Pierce was all alone in second place, one spot ahead of the legendary Bird.
“It was a relief,” Pierce said after the game. “So much was hanging over me the last couple of days just hearing about it. Knowing that you got a game to play and so many people talked about it and talked about it.
“For me, its a great feat knowing that you are going to be up there with all the great Celtics. Larry Bird is probably one of the most important players that ever played in this franchise. Just to be up there and have your name up there with them is a great honor.”
Pierce isn’t just up there with Bird now. He’s ahead of him. The great Larry Bird is now staring up at Pierce in the Celtics’ record books. That achievement by Pierce was bigger than tonight’s game, and that’s why this page revolves around his milestone moment.
Key Box Score Line
Would you expect anything less from Paul Pierce than to string together an incredible box score on a night that was centered around him? If you did, you were badly mistaken.
Pierce took the floor tonight with an immense weight on his shoulders as he attempted to pass an icon in the franchise’s record books. He not only did so, he did so in fantastic form. Pierce nearly recorded a triple-double with his 15 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in a little more than 37 minutes of action.
The Captain didn’t exactly shoot the ball well from the field, as he was marred by a 2-for-10 shooting performance from downtown, but it didn’t matter. He made his way up the record books and found other ways to make an impact on the game.
This was his night, and he made sure it resulted in a win with his stellar overall performance.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce and Jermaine O'Neal tied for the game high in rebounds with eight apiece.
- Charlotte scored 22 points in both the first and fourth quarters.
- Three technical fouls were whistled in the third quarter within 68 seconds of game action.
- Kevin Garnett scored a game-high 22 points in less than 27 minutes of action.
- Both teams scored 14 points off of the other team's turnovers.
- Derrick Brown shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the field en route to a career-high 20 points for Charlotte.
- Pierce nearly recorded a triple-double with 15 points and nine assists to go along with his eight boards.
- The teams combined to shoot just 8-of-39 from downtown.
- Rajon Rondo recorded a game-high 14 assists, which were just five less than the entire Bobcats team.
- Rondo tallied those 14 dimes while not committing a single turnover.
- The Celtics led by as many as 18 points in the game.
- Boston made all eight of its free throws.
- Brandon Bass scored 13 points off the bench for Boston.
- Charlotte's starters tallied 46 points, which were just eight more than the number its reserves scored.
- Pierce shot just 2-of-10 from 3-point range.
- There were only six total steals and four total blocks in the game.
- Reggie Williams led the Bobcats with 21 points.
- Ray Allen scored 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
- Charlotte's starting point guard, Kemba Walker, led the team in rebounds with seven.
- On the flip side, Rondo did not grab a single rebound.
- Boston outassisted Charlotte by a count of 31-19.
- The Celtics scored 46 points in the paint.
Quote of the Night
Paul Pierce on passing Larry Bird on Boston's all-time scoring list: "I told all my teammates and all my coaches that I’m thankful for them because without them I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this feat. I’ve been healthy, I’ve been lucky and I’ve been fortunate, and all those things come into play. I’ve been pretty good, too."