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Morrison regains stroke as Bobcats beat Celtics

Nov 23, 2006 - 2:52 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce could use someone on his team who can make shots. Someone like Adam Morrison.

Morrison scored 26 points, including a pair of key baskets in the fourth quarter, as the Charlotte Bobcats swarmed Pierce and snapped the three-game winning streak of the Boston Celtics with a 92-83 victory.

Emeka Okafor had 11 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for the Bobcats, who had won just once in their last seven games but avenged a 110-108 overtime loss at the buzzer at Boston on November 8.

After a pair of games in which he averaged 24 points, Morrison made just 8-of-29 shots in his last two contests. But the rookie forward with the sweet stroke regained his touch Wednesday, making 8-of-17 shots, including 3-of-5 from the arc.

"As a shooter, it's always nice to get a couple to fall early and get your confidence up with a layup or an easy basket," Morrison said. "It's tough to start off 0-for-4 or 0-for-5 and then having everybody in stadium wanting you to hit that next shot and you're cold. It's really important to get some good looks early."

"He's a gifted scorer with the way he shoots the ball," Pierce said. "He's real aggressive in driving the ball. He has a pro game already as a rookie. He's confident out there. A lot of rookies are scared to take shots. He feels like this is his team the way he takes control."

Facing constant double- and triple-teams, Pierce made 8-of-20 shots and collected 30 points and 14 rebounds. But he didn't get much help as the Celtics managed just one basket during a 12-minute stretch of the second half.

Ryan Gomes scored 12 points but was the only other player in double figures for Boston, which was denied its first four-game winning streak since April 12-17, 2005.

"We deserved this," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We played like (garbage) all night. You know, you practice like you play. Our last two practices, we were walking around like we had climbed Mount Everest and not just won three games in a row.

"We were sloppy in practice and then we were sloppy in the game today. We had no urgency. We didn't execute anything. Our formula is three or more passes and you score. We took quick shot after quick shot after quick shot after quick shot. It was just horrible to watch for me."

A 3-pointer by Morrison and a jumper by Matt Carroll gave Charlotte its largest lead at 80-68 with 5:51 left before a drive by Wally Szczerbiak - Boston's first basket of the final period - triggered a 9-0 run.

But Carroll beat the shot clock with a jumper, Okafor blocked a drive by Szczerbiak and Carroll sank a free throw before Morrison made a pretty runner in the lane for an 85-77 bulge with 2:11 to play.

"I had missed my three previous shots, but Raymond (Felton) swung the ball and I saw Paul bite on the fake and went by him," Morrison said. "I knew I couldn't get to the basket, so I just put up the runner. I've been doing those for a while and they're finally starting to fall."

"We got him the ball," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "There were several occasions late in the game where he came off screens and we didn't get him the ball. We have to go a better job than that."

Pierce drove for a bucket, but the Celtics committed a turnover and Morrison found Okafor for an easy layup that sealed it at 87-79 with 38 seconds to go.

In the first quarter, Morrison made 5-of-6 shots while the Celtics sank just 6-of-22 and fell behind, 29-17. Pierce came alive in the second period, when Boston caught Charlotte before settling for a 53-49 halftime deficit.

"Morrison was hot and got things going for them in the beginning of the game," said Szczerbiak, who scored just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting. "We could never get into a good flow or get any energy out there tonight. We've got to find a way to pick ourselves up when our shots aren't falling, especially on the road."

"The performance tonight was consistent from start to finish," Bickerstaff said. "We didn't really let Szczerbiak get off."

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