Saturday, April 12, 2014

Celtics 106 – Bobcats 103: C's hold on, snap streak

Boston – The Celtics, losers of nine consecutive games, gave their home crowd a treat last night. They finally snapped their largest losing streak of the season without Rajon Rondo in the lineup by beating the Bobcats, 106-103.

Phil Pressey gave the best performance of his rookie campaign. He was informed shortly before tip-off that he would start in the place of the team’s Captain, due to a sore left chin. Pressey finished with his second double-double including a career high 13 assists. Pressey also scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. It was his ninth start of the season as he helped his team secure the win.

“Phil gave us a great lift on the defensive end,” said Avery Bradley. “I feel like that’s why we won the game.”

Boston finished with six players in double figures including Bradley, who ended up with 22 points. Jared Sullinger, who left the game in the third with a mild left ankle sprain, returned in the fourth added 20 points along with seven rebounds. Brandon Bass chipped in with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Jeff Green also contributed with 18 in a great team effort.

Al Jefferson finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds to led the Bobcats. Gary Neal added 13 points, while Chris Douglas-Roberts had 12 points. Kemba Walker sat out with a sore right groin for Charlotte, who came into last night with a season’s best; five wins in a row. The loss drops them down to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference picture with three games remaining on their schedule.

“We got what we deserved,” said Jefferson. “There was no way we can go in the playoffs with that type of mindset.”

At halftime Boston led, 57-55, and by the end of the third quarter had a 84-75 lead, after scoring the last 12 points of the quarter. The Celtics were all systems go as they were up, 90-77, mid-way through the fourth quarter before the Bobcats made a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to a three point game.

Avery Bradley stopped the run with a field goal; but a Jefferson layup and Gerald Henderson 3-pointer tied it all up at 92 with 5:13 remaining in the quarter.

It felt like déjà vu from the previous two games when the Celtics relinquished a good size lead late in the fourth quarter but lost their leads at the end of those games.

“We learned our lesson,” said Sullinger. “We stayed poised.”

Charlotte regained the lead, 97-96, with 4:01 left in the game before the home team went on a surge of their own making it an 8-0 run.

After a 3-pointer from Sully and Bradley, Green made a lay-up to and gave Celtics a, 104-97,  lead. A Jefferson lay-up put the Bobcats within one with 51 seconds left. Pressey tipped a missed Sully 3-ball rebound with the 24-second clock set to expire, to Bass who was fouled. Sullinger was then fouled on an inbound pass, and he made both free throws.

“That’s just one of the winning plays that coach Stevens talks about,” Pressey said of being at the right spot for the tip. “Diving for a loose ball, boxing out, taking the charge, getting offensive rebounds.”

With 2.5 seconds left and Boston up, 106-103, the Bobcats inbounded the ball to Jannero Pargo who got a clean look at a straight ahead 3-point shot as time expired, but missed to force the game into OT. The Celtics had held off a late Charlotte run to hang on to their first win in 10 games.

“I put my hands up to make him make a tough shot, “Pressey said of the last play of the night. “He was kind of fading away. If he made that shot we would have gone into overtime. If not, we win.”

Boston will be in Cleveland tonight taking on the Cavs as they look to win two in a row. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM on CSNNE.

Game Notes:
Celtics shot 52 percent to the Bobcats 51 percent in a game of surges by both teams. Kris Humphries returned to the Boston lineup after missing Wednesday night’s tilt, he played 11 minutes and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds. Al Jefferson is 1-12 in his career against his former team.

Joel Pavón

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