Boston 94, Charlotte 82 - Rajon Rondo Leads Depleted Celtics to Win

Stiemsma set a tone with early shot-blocking
In honor of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, I'm going to mail this recap in. Boston proved that were there no Big Three, they would still be able to beat the bottom feeders of the NBA, as they defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 94-82.

With their stars remaining up north, responsibility fell on "the other guys" to come through and finish out this three-in-three weekend with a win. 

After opening with a strong push from Rajon Rondo, the Celtics led throughout the game. Rondo was able to prove his scoring can be critical to winning as he put up 20 points.

Rondo also extended his assist streak to 22 straight games with double-digit-dimes finishing with 16 tonight. 

Doc Rivers had to get creative with the starting lineup, opting to go with Rondo, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma. 

Stiemsma was crucial in setting an early tone to the game and avoiding foul trouble in the first half. The center finished the night with just eight points, but he also contributed six blocks and four steals. His defensive presence early caused a lot of shot alterations and left the Bobcats younger players second-guessing trips to the paint. 

The scoring had to come from somewhere, and Bradley and Bass obliged. The duo put up 22 apiece, Bass also grabbed nine boards. 

The Celtics faltered a bit in the middle of the fourth quarter, allowing Charlotte to come within four. On cue, Bradley hit a big corner three to calm Boston's nerves. From there they were able to close out the Bobcats, finishing the weekend at 2-1. 

The Bobcats are still stuck with just seven wins on the season. Gerald Henderson led the way for Charlotte with 22 points, while playing in front of his father.

Stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen did not travel with the team and remained in New York in preparation for Tuesday's game against the Knicks. Both Garnett and Pierce are probable, while Allen remains day-to-day.

With the win, Boston improves to 36-25 on the year and moved a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks in the conference. Indiana was idle tonight, so the Celtics are still 2.5 games behind them for the three-seed.