The Charlotte Bobcats rode big contributions from unlikely sources to beat the East-leading Boston Celtics 94-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box. After Stephen Jackson was ejected arguing a call in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson stepped up off the bench to fill the void. Gerald Wallace continued his recent strong play, leading the Bobcats with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
After hanging with, but ultimately succumbing to elite teams twice over the weekend at home, the Bobcats got another chance against the Boston Celtics, who were without Shaq, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden due to injuries (not to mention Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West) AND on the second night of a back-too-back.
This one started out similarly to the Heat and Mavs games: the Cats showing no signs of backing down, hanging right with the Celtics. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen played well early on, while Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats. Early in the second quarter, 6′-7″ Shaun Livingston took advantage of his matchup with 5′-9″ Nate Robinson to the tune of 10 points in a 5 minute span.
But late in the second quarter, Cap’n Jack struck again. After a defensive switch left Jackson on Garnett in the post, Garnett began to work for position. Jackson fought him for said position, forcing Garnett to take an awkward, slightly off-balance step. Garnett sold it well and a foul was called on Jackson.
It wasn’t a terrible call; but Jack apparently thought it was and laid into the official, quickly drawing a tech. Silas went to the bench to sub for Jack, but not quickly enough. Jack continued to berate the refs on the way towards the sideline and drew his second tech and an ejection.
But the Bobcats surprisingly wouldn’t fade, taking a one point lead into halftime. Midway through the third, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit back-to-back threes to give the Celtics 65-57 lead; but from that point, the Bobcats dug in for a strong finish.
The fourth quarter was an exctiting, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw an unconventional Bobcats crunchtime group overcome Jack’s ejection and a Celtics team that appeared to run out of gas.
Coach Paul Silas went with Shaun Livingston’s hot hand down the stretch over DJ Augustin; Livingston responded and kept up his strong play, finishing the game with 18 points on 7-10 FG.
Gerald Henderson filled in admirably for Jackson, playing his customary fantastic perimeter defense and nailing a clutch 20-footer off a down screen with 2:31 left to give the Bobcats an 86-83 lead.
And on the next Bobcats possession, Eduardo Najera, who played great defense on Kevin Garnett in 19 minutes of playing time, drained a huge three to push the lead to 89-83. From there, good defense and a few free throws closed it out.
- With Gerald Henderson’s continued improvement and Stephen Jackson’s persistent and apparently worsening troubles, is a trade becoming more and more likely? I’d love to see it, even if doing so meant the Bobcats falling out of the playoffs. Problem is, with Jack’s continued embarrassing behavior and the Maverick’s elite play with their current roster, would they still even be interested in him?
- So Jack is up to 13 technical fouls, if you’re counting. As a reminder, once you get to 16, every other tech begets a one-game suspension. More disincentive for another team to make a trade for him.
- Kwame Brown also picked up a tech for getting into Kendrick Perkins face after a hard foul.
- Ray Allen had only two three-pointers and will have to wait another game to tie and overtake Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record for made threes.
- Next game is Wednesday night as the Bobcats visit Indianapolis to take on the Pacers; 7 PM ET start. Along with the Sixers and Bucks, the Pacers are one of the teams that the Bobcats will be fighting for the 7th-8th East playoff spot — so the head-to-head matchups are obviously huge. The Pacers currently lead the Cats by a half-game for the 8th spot.