Celtics 94, Bobcats 82
As Meatloaf once sang, "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad..."
The Celtics survived their much-heralded back-to-back-to-back set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, pulling out the second and third games after a letdown in Toronto Friday.
But the key moment in Sunday's win belonged to Avery Bradley. Bradley’s recent surge and move to the starting lineup has been well-reported over the last few weeks, but he’s continuing to make his name as a defense-first player who can knock down jumpers and corner threes. On Sunday night, the Celtics, playing without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, found themselves suddenly getting a late-game challenge from the Charlotte Bobcats. In the fourth quarter of a game that Rajon Rondo (20 points, 16 assists) had mostly controlled from wire to wire, the Bobcats had the lead down to 78-74.
But when Bradley canned a corner three on the right side of the court, he pushed the Celtics' lead back up to seven points, and Boston never looked back. The shot kicked off a 12-2 run that basically iced the game, and Bradley would finish with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
Key Box Score Line
Outside observers who don’t see Rondo play every night have often questioned just how good the young point guard is, and openly wondered how he’d perform if he weren’t surrounded by a troika of Hall of Fame players in Pierce, Garnett and Allen.
Well, Rondo seemed intent on making a point Sunday night, proving he can rack up plenty of assists even when the Big Three aren’t in town.
Rather than playing in the third game of a lockout-induced back-to-back-to-back, Garnett and Pierce were left behind in New York to rest, while Ray Allen continues to nurse a sore right ankle. But the Celtics didn’t miss a beat, plugging Greg Stiemsma and Mickael Pietrus into the lineup, and they pulled out their sixth win in seven games.
Rondo posted 16 assists, and while he did get careless at times and rack up eight turnovers, he spent most of his time setting up his teammates for success. Rondo played 43 minutes, and had he not banged his elbow in the third quarter, he may have gone the distance.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics won by the same margin on consecutive nights. They beat the Nets 94-82 on Saturday night in New Jersey.
- Greg Stiemsma blocked six shots for the second time this season. He blocked six shots on December 28 vs. New Orleans.
- Stiemsma also collected four steals.
- Rajon Rondo continued his double-digit assist streak by posting 16 dimes on Sunday night. Rondo’s handed out 10 or more helpers in his last 22 games.
- Every Celtics player who got in the game scored at least one point.
- Jamario Moon was the only player who participated in the contest who didn’t score at all.
- Sasha Pavlovic grabbed seven rebounds, his season high.
- No Celtics reserve hit more than one field goal tonight, or scored more than two points.
- Brandon Bass added 22 points of his own.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on Rondo’s playing time with the Big Three sidelined: “Rondo said, ‘Hey, I’m ready for 48,’ and I said, ‘You’re going to play 48.”