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Richardson, Bobcats hand Celtics fourth loss

Jan 10, 2008 - 4:55 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - Due to a pinched nerve in his neck, Ray Allen wasn't available to rescue the Boston Celtics this time against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Instead, Jason Richardson matched a season high with 34 points and Nazr Mohammed added 18 and nine rebounds to lead the Bobcats to a 95-83 upset of the Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden on Wednesday night.

The Celtics (29-4) lost for just the second time in 17 home games and had their nine-game winning streak snapped by the Bobcats (13-21), who won for just the second time in 13 road contests.

Richardson shot 14-of-22 from the floor and pulled down nine rebounds.

"I felt great tonight," Richardson said. "Teammates were getting me the ball and coaches were drawing plays up, and I knew when they were doing that I had to do something. Every time I got it, it felt like the rim was as big as the ocean, throwing the ball up and it was just going in."

It was the eighth time in the last nine games that the veteran swingman has gone over 25 points.

"We're having a rough season but I think this could be a turning point in our season," Richardson said. "We've had a lot of games where we played good the first three quarters against a lot of good teams and end up losing in the fourth. I'm not surprised because we're a pretty good team. It just doesn't show in our record."

On November 24, Allen had drilled a 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Celtics to an improbable 96-95 win over the Bobcats in Charlotte.

Even without Allen, the Celtics managed to build momentum throughout the first quarter and into the second. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo picked up the slack, scoring nine points apiece in the opening quarter as Boston led, 24-20.

"We missed him a lot, you know he's one of our better players," Garnett said of Allen. "But when he's out, other players have to step up. It's a game and we have to learn from it."

"Ray's an All-Star and he's a 20-point scorer so obviously there was a big impact," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "If you put Ray back in, it makes a difference so we're just going to be happy with the fact he wasn't in."

The Celtics got productive minutes from their bench as James Posey and Brian Scalabrine played significant minutes in place of starters Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins.

Pierce picked up two early fouls in the first five minutes of the game and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench. He struggled, making just 1-of-4 shots from the floor in finishing the first half with four points.

After not playing in the first quarter, Eddie House scored seven points in the second quarter as Boston's lead grew to 35-24.

But Charlotte began its comeback by scoring the next 14 points and taking a 38-35 lead on Gerald Wallace's layup with 2:14 remaining before halftime.

Wallace and Emeka Okafor combined for 10 points in the second quarter, helping the Bobcats outscore the Celtics, 12-0, in the paint and 25-17 overall in the period to take a 45-41 lead to the locker room.

After being held scoreless in the second quarter, Garnett scored 14 of Boston's 24 third-quarter points.

But Richardson made sure the Bobcats would not wilt under pressure. He shot 5-of-6 from the floor and scored 10 in the third as Charlotte closed the period with a 7-0 run to take a 72-65 lead into the fourth.

"I thought our defense was really good and our zone was able to get them out of some of the things they wanted to do," Vincent said. "And I thought our offense was pretty effective and Jason Richardson just got hot and made some big shots."

Scalabrine energized the lethargic Celtics and the sellout crowd when he pump-faked a jumper and went in for a two-handed slam with 10:00 remaining in the fourth. The dunk cut Charlotte's lead to 75-70.

The Bobcats built their lead to 81-70 with a 6-0 run before Pierce drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing with 6:59 remaining to cut it back to single digits. But Richardson responded with a jumper over Pierce a minute later to restore the lead to 10.

"I knew we couldn't let the crowd get into game," Richardson said. "I had to come back and answer and keep them quiet."

Garnett scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds for Boston but it wasn't enough to overcome Richardson.

"He hit some tough shots man," Garnett said of Richardson. "I thought certain situations Paul (Pierce) made him go to his counter, and he just hit some tough shots."

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