Bobcats blow out Celtics, halt skid
Paul Pierce rested while Gerald Henderson went to work.
Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Charlotte Bobcats snapped a 10-game losing streak by pounding the lackluster Boston Celtics 100-74 on Tuesday night.
It was Charlotte’s biggest margin of victory since beating the Miami Heat 104-65 on Jan. 20, 2010.
”I was just trying to be aggressive from the start and just attack,” said Henderson, who was 11 of 19 from the field and knocked down all 12 of his foul shots.
Ben Gordon scored 17 points and new starting forward Josh McRoberts had his first double-double for Charlotte with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
When asked if the Bobcats took Doc Rivers’ decision to rest Pierce as a slap in the face, Gordon simply shrugged his shoulders.
”Hopefully he rests when we play them again on Saturday” in Boston, Gordon said. ”Tell him to go get more rest.”
The Bobcats (14-50) doubled last season’s win total.
The Celtics looked every bit like a team that has played nine of its last 11 games on the road.
Kevin Garnett needed nine points to pass Jerry West and move into 15th place on the NBA’s career scoring list, but was held to just five on 2-of-10 shooting. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each had 14 points for the Celtics, who were outrebounded 48-29 by a Bobcats team not known for its prowess on the glass.
Henderson got off to a fast start, scoring 21 points to help Charlotte to a 49-46 halftime lead.
The fourth-year guard stayed with his biggest strength while playing against Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, driving to the hole and drawing contact. He was 8 of 13 from the field in the first half and made all five of his free-throw attempts.
Henderson also was able to create shots from the low post.
”We got into a groove in the first quarter and just kept it going,” he said.
He continued his solid play in the third, knocking down a 3-pointer from the wing and then coming up with a huge effort play to give the Bobcats a double-digit lead. He drove the lane and got blocked, but corralled the rebound after put it back in while drawing a foul.
The Bobcats poured it on in the fourth quarter. Gordon threw an alley-oop pass to McRoberts, who slammed it home with his right hand to give Charlotte a 24-point lead with six minutes remaining.
”Gerald Henderson, I just thought he looked at whoever was guarding him and said, `I am better than you tonight,”’ Rivers said. ”And he proved that.”
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap was simply happy to put another long losing streak behind him.
”Our guys can sleep soundly tonight,” Dunlap said.
The Celtics probably should have been expecting more of a game from the Bobcats after losing in Charlotte earlier in the season.
But Rivers decided to sit the 35-year-old Pierce with Boston in the midst of a difficult part of the schedule. He pondered sitting Pierce, Garnett or Terry while on the flight to Charlotte from Oklahoma City.
He chose Pierce.
Rivers thought the loss was more about his team approaching the game with the wrong mentality than the absence of Pierce.
”They were so much more competitive than us the entire night and I thought it felt like we had a Band-Aid on a dam the first half and then it came off and blew us open,” Rivers said.
Despite the loss, Rivers said giving Pierce the night off was the right thing to do.
”Yeah, definitely, otherwise he would have been a part of that,” Rivers said. ”What I was thinking was that I wish I would have given Kevin a night off too, in the middle of the game. That would have been terrific. Then we would have had two guys that had gotten some rest.”
Notes: The Celtics and Bobcats play again Saturday night in Boston. … Bobcats center Byron Mullens, who has been benched for McRoberts, played only 11 minutes before leaving with a strained back.