Shaq Turns Back Time, Leads C's Past Bobcats
Without his frontcourt mates Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, and Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal scored a season-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting. The Big Shamrock also pulled down five boards and rejected five Charlotte shot attempts while playing a season-high 35 minutes.
Rajon Rondo filled up the stat sheet as well, dropping 18 points, 13 assists, and a team-high six rebounds, while recording only two turnovers. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each added 19 and converted on a combined 7-8 shots from deep.
The Bobcats posted up a weak offensive effort, shooting just 42.1% from the field. Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin netted 20 and 19 points respectively in a losing effort. The streaky shooting Stephen Jackson had a rough night from the field, connecting on only 5-17 attempts.
Boston jumped out to an early 22-16 lead as Pierce netted seven early points and Rondo dished out five assists. However, the Bobcats answered with an 8-0 run, and the two teams eventually finished the first 12 minutes of the game knotted at 24-24.
Charlotte continued to hang with the C's holding a small advantage for the first half of the second frame. Boston was able to hit a couple baskets and even up the score at 42-42 before the two teams headed into the locker room for halftime. Shaq led the Celtics with 10 points at the break on 5-6 shooting. Interestingly enough, Doc Rivers' starting five scored all 42 of Boston's points on 18-32 shooting, while his bench players went scoreless, missing all eight shots they took in the half. The reserves also had more fouls (5) than rebounds (4) in the 1st half.
Pierce scored the first five points on the 2nd half as Boston opened up the game with a 9-4 run. Rondo recorded a double-double just four minutes into the 3rd quarter, laying in a lefty finger-roll to put Boston ahead 53-48. Unfortunately for Boston, Pierce picked up his 4th foul soon after was was sent to the bench for the remainder of the frame. Semih Erden also picked up his 4th, and then 5th foul with less than a minute to go in the quarter. The rookie from Turkey played only eight minutes before picking up #5. Despite Boston's 19 personal fouls in the first three quarters, the Celtics led by three entering the 4th.
The Celtics held their lead for the first five minutes of the frame and extended it to 84-76 halfway through the 4th as Allen hit a pair of his trademark shots from downtown. Then, Rondo knocked down a three of his own to raise Boston's advantage to 11.
A few quick game notes: Glen Davis set a career-high scoring in double-digits for the eight straight game. Ray Allen shot over 50% from the field for the 11th straight game. Shaq sunk all three of his free throws tonight to make it seven straight from the charity stripe.
With the win Boston improved to 30-9 and 18-3 at home, while the Bobcats fall to 15-22. The Celtics return to action Monday night against the Magic. Hopefully KG will be on the court for 8:00 PM ET tipoff.