BOSTON, March 4 (Ticker) --
Having Antoine Walker
and Gary Payton
teammates already is paying dividends for the Boston Celtics.
Walker scored 18 points and Payton added 10 with four assists as
the Celtics won their season-high fourth straight game, a
104-84 triumph over the struggling Charlotte Bobcats.
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The Celtics, who have won all three meetings with the expansion
Bobcats, moved three games above .500 and maintained their 2½-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers atop of the Atlantic
"We came out with the right energy ... defensively," Walker
said. "The second unit gave us an eight- to 10-point cushion and
then we were able to stretch it to 18 in the second half. Gary
did a good job of establishing tempo with his defensive
Payton, who was traded to Atlanta for Walker on Feb. 24, was
waived by the Hawks on Tuesday and re-signed with the Celtics
earlier Friday. He made a pair of layups during a 9-2 run that
closed the second quarter and gave Boston a 56-41 lead.
"It's like Payton never left," Celtics guard Marcus Banks
"He is a great guy to have around. You have the veteran
leadership and he is doing a great job with me and Delonte (West
), teaching us the point guard position, and he is out
there doing it as well."
Walker, who spent the first seven years of his career with the
Celtics, scored 11 points in the third quarter, including a
3-pointer with 4:24 to go that extended Boston's advantage to
"We are not changing a lot of stuff," Boston coach Doc Rivers
said. "We're just tweaking it to fit Antoine in, and now with
Gary coming back, it's going to work out."
In winning for the 16th time in 20 home games, the Celtics had
six players in double figures. Ricky Davis
scored 18 points, Banks added 13 and Mark Blount
and West chipped in 11
"We have a solid team," West said. "You look up and we have
four or five All-Star-caliber players on this team. And it's
going to be a hard team to play going into the playoffs."
came off the bench to score 13 points and rookie
had 12 and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who have
lost six straight road games and 26 of 28 contests away from Charlotte this
"Sometimes in a game, you think you're right there, you look up
at the scoreboard and you're down 10," Okafor said. "It sneaks
up on you, and that's what it felt like today."