The last time the Charlotte Bobcats visited Boston, the Celtics were on a winning streak and coming off a victory over a major Eastern Conference contender.

The undaunted Bobcats handed the Celtics what remains their worst home loss this season.

Boston, riding a three-game winning streak after beating the defending East champions on Wednesday, will hope to avoid a repeat on Friday when it hosts the reeling Bobcats, who've lost four straight.

The Celtics (44-12) were 29-3 and on a nine-game winning streak when they hosted Charlotte on Jan. 9, one game after they had beaten the Pistons 92-85 in Detroit. But the Bobcats, who were just 1-11 on the road at the time, rode a 34-point game from Jason Richardson to a 95-83 win.

It remains the only Boston loss by more than five points this season at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Celtics improved to 24-4 there with their sixth straight home win on Wednesday, opening a five-game homestand with a 92-87 victory over Cleveland after going just 2-3 on a road trip against Western Conference teams.

Ray Allen shot 7-of-10 from the field and scored 22 points, while Kevin Garnett added 18 and 11 rebounds for his second double-double in six games since he missed nine contests with an abdominal strain.

"We didn't play great and they didn't either," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the team's official Web site. "Coming back from the West Coast, I was really concerned about the game. I was glad we were playing a team like Cleveland because I thought it would force us to have good focus"

Allen's hot shooting has helped the Celtics in recent games. He's 20-of-30 in the last three games, including 8-of-13 from 3-point range, averaging 18.7 points over that span.

He missed the loss to Charlotte in January with a pinched nerve, and the Celtics shot just 4-of-20 from 3-point range without him - including a dismal 1-of-9 performance by Paul Pierce. Nazr Mohammad had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats off the bench in that game.

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

It's been difficult for the Bobcats (19-38) to produce their best effort recently with leading scorer Gerald Wallace out indefinitely after suffering his fourth concussion in four years. They've lost two games without him by a combined 39 points, and are shooting just 40.8 percent during their four-game slide.

Charlotte's struggles on the road have also continued, where it is 4-21 and lost its last eight following a 113-89 loss at New York on Wednesday.

The Bobcats also played part of that game without Richardson, who suffered a scratch on his eye and scored only seven points in 12 minutes before exiting. Richardson said the injury was minor.

"It is tough for us when we don't have a couple of our main scorers in the game. Tonight, we scrambled to find some offense and we couldn't really get it going," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "Once we didn't get the offense, we kind of broke down our defense and it kind of unraveled from there. To miss Gerald and Jason from this game is tough for this team right now."

The Celtics, meanwhile, have a couple of likely additions on the horizon, though neither is expected to play Friday. They signed veteran P.J. Brown on Wednesday, and the 6-foot-11 forward/center attended his first practice on Thursday.

They're also reportedly considered a frontrunner to sign point guard Sam Cassell, who was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday.


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