Bobcats 95, Celtics 83 (F)

BOSTON, Jan. 9 (AP) -- Hardly anyone except for maybe Charlotte's Jason Richardson could have seen this coming.

The Boston Celtics were rolling at home and the Bobcats were miserable on the road.

Richardson had 34 points and nine rebounds, Gerald Wallace had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bobcats stunned the Celtics 95-83 for just their fourth loss of the season on Wednesday night.

"I'm not surprised because we're a pretty good team,'' Richardson said. "It just doesn't show in our record.''

And it really didn't when they played on the road.

The Bobcats, who entered with an Eastern Conference-worst 1-11 road mark, also got 16 points and eight assists from Raymond Felton. But it was Richardson, who went 14-for-22 from the floor, that hurt the Celtics most.

"Jason Richardson was fantastic, just tremendous,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Boston (29-4) and spoiled its bid for the fastest start in team history to 30 wins. The 1959-60 Celtics started 30-4 before going on to win the NBA title.

Kevin Garnett led Boston with 24 points and eight rebounds. Paul Pierce scored 13 points on just 4-for-14 shooting.

"We aren't going to win every game of the season,'' Pierce said. "We have to expect everybody's best, and it was one of Charlotte's best games.''

The Celtics' only other loss at home came when Detroit's Chauncey Billups hit two free throws with 0.1 seconds left in an 87-85 win on Dec. 19. Boston is 16-2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Richardson hit some keys shots when Boston tried to mount a comeback, many coming late in the shot clock.

"I thought our offense was pretty effective and Jason Richardson just got hot and made some big shots,'' Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "The bottom line was that there was a better-focused effort of getting the ball to the rim, and getting to the bucket instead of settling for outside shots.''

Boston hit just 42 percent of its shots.

"It was our execution,'' Rivers said. "It was our defensive execution. But listen, guys, we scored 83 points, too, you know. We have a better offensive team.''

The Bobcats led 72-65 after three quarters and opened it to 81-70 on Richardson's layup with 7:08 to play. Boston pulled to 83-76 on Pierce's three-point play, but Richardson hit two free throws and Nazr Mohammed had a pair of baskets inside to keep the lead safe.

Boston never moved closer than seven points in the final 5 minutes.

The Celtics looked like they were in for another easy night at home when they opened a 35-24 edge midway into the second half, but the Bobcats responded by scoring the next 14 points en route to a 45-41 halftime edge.

Charlotte trailed 63-61 late in the third quarter before closing with an 11-2 spree that was highlighted by Wallace's breakaway windmill jam, giving the Bobcats a 65-53 lead. Garnett scored 14 points in the quarter and Richardson 11.

Charlotte lost the previous game between the teams at home on Nov. 24 when Ray Allen hit a 3 at the buzzer.

Notes: Allen was sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck. Rivers said before the game, "Clearly if it was a playoff game he'd be playing. He felt great today.'' ... Celtics F Glen Davis also missed the game, sidelined with a sore right knee. ... Charlotte F Jared Dudley, who played his college ball at Boston College, made his first return trip to the TD Banknorth Garden and had a pair of former Eagles teammates, Tyrese Rice and Shamari Spears, on hand to see him. ... The Bobcats were coming off a season-high 115 points in their win over New Jersey at home on Tuesday.


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