Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/12

Game 1: Friday, November 12th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 25th
Game 3: Friday, March 4th
Game 4: Monday, March 14th

Celtics 97

(19-22, 6-16 away)

Bobcats 92

(8-30, 7-13 home)

    7:00 PM ET, January 25, 2005

    Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 27 24 20 2697
    CHA 21 26 23 2292

    Top Performers

    Boston: P. Pierce 33 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Charlotte: E. Okafor 20 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

    Bobcats drop 9th straight

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- For the Boston Celtics to break their nine-game road losing streak, they had to learn to let Paul Pierce carry them down the stretch.

    That was the message coach Doc Rivers delivered, and the Celtics heard him loud and clear.

    Pierce scored 14 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to lead Boston to a 97-92 victory Tuesday night over the Charlotte Bobcats, who lost their ninth in a row overall.

    "The guys made an effort to really look to me, I don't think that's been the case in the past," Pierce said. "Yesterday in practice Doc said this is what we need to do, establish something in the fourth quarter.

    "That's what most teams need to do, go to the best player in the fourth quarter and expect him to make plays. I'm our best player."

    Pierce helped the Celtics by making 10 free throws in the final period, and 13 of 16 in all. He also grabbed three defensive rebounds in the final period and had two steals.

    Pierce hit what appeared to be the game-sealing jumper with 1:22 to play. But Jason Hart made a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to cut it to 94-91.

    Gary Payton made a pair of free throws for Boston, but the Bobcats still had a chance with four free throw attempts.

    Once again, they faltered at the line. Primoz Brezec made just one of his shots and Emeka Okafor missed both of his attempts.

    Pierce then sealed it with a free throw with 13 seconds to play to give the Celtics a road victory for the first time since Dec. 18 in Cleveland.

    "He got in rhythm the fourth quarter," Rivers said. "We got it to our guy and our guy really took charge."

    Raef LaFrentz scored 12 points for Boston and Ricky Davis added 11.

    Okafor scored all 20 of his points in the second half and added 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Bobcats. But he was 0-for-4 at the line -- and the Bobcats were 10-of-22.

    "Every game it's the same story, we just can't make free throws," Brezec said. "This is getting ridiculous. We can't knock them down and it's in our heads."

    Brezec finished with 18 points for Charlotte, Kareem Rush had 17 and Keith Bogans added 12. Hart had 10 assists.

    Things got testy between the Bobcats midway through the second quarter when Hart spent much of a timeout yelling at Brezec. When Hart wouldn't calm down, coach Bernie Bickerstaff tried to restore order.

    "I'll tell you what you're going to do," he said to Hart. "You go sit over there and argue."

    Hart somehow sweet-talked his way out of trouble, and he and Brezec both returned to the game.

    "That was the most selfish basketball game that this team has played," Bickerstaff said. "Everything that happened, we responded personally. Guys were open, and we were concerned about ourselves as individuals."

    Hart was not available for comment after the game, and Brezec blew off the argument.

    "We're good, that happens," Brezec said. "Some of that stuff is positive. We just can't sit on the bench and pretend everything is all right."

    But as far as Bickerstaff is concerned, the biggest problem with the Bobcats is their free throw shooting. In back-to-back fourth quarters, the Bobcats have shot 5-of-14 at the line in close games.

    "It's a fundamental thing they do in their job," he said. "How do we do it? We make them. That's the solution."

    Game notes

    The Bobcats missed their first four shots, the Celtics opened 1-for-6. But Boston took off from there, making 10 of its next 16 shots in the first quarter. ... Okafor missed his first six shots. ... Bobcats guard Brevin Knight missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle. ... Boston rookie Tony Allen's second start wasn't as productive as his first. He finished with seven points on 2-for-4 shooting after a 20-point effort in 27 minutes on Saturday night in Atlanta.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 97 92
    FGM-FGA 33-74 (.446) 38-85 (.447)
    3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 6-19 (.316)
    FTM-FTA 27-36 (.750) 10-22 (.455)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-46 15-45
    Assists 21 22
    Turnovers 15 15
    Steals 8 8
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 16 15
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 25 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 9 4

    Top Performers

    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 33
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Emeka Okafor Okafor
    Points: 20
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 5