for this game

Perkins, Celtics turn back Bobcats

Mar 1, 2008 - 5:07 AM By Brian Devine PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- It was business as usual for the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden.

Ray Allen scored 23 points and Kendrick Perkins added 19 points to help the Celtics cruise to a 108-100 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo contributed nine and a career-high 16 assists for Boston.

"I think teams are starting to take notice to our other guys," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce in pointing to the strong efforts by Perkins and Rondo. "The focus night in and night out is going to be on me, Kevin (Garnett) and Ray (Allen). Teams gear their game plan after that, and when they over look these guys, the other guys can really hurt you.

"When you look at championships being won, it is usually because of great role players stepping up and getting the job done."

After losing three consecutive games for the first time this year, the Celtics have won their last four games improving to 25-4 at home and avenging their only double-digit loss of the season, which came at home against Charlotte on January 9.

Despite leading by 17 points on two occasions in the third quarter, Boston had to turn back a spirited fourth-quarter comeback by the Bobcats.

"We had a chance to get away from them so many times, and throwing the ball around, just missed layups, bad breaks, bad shots," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought we kind of let our guard down a little bit. I thought the first half we had stretches of terrific basketball."

Charlotte whittled the deficit to 96-91 with 2:47 before the Celtics responded with a pair of jumpers by Garnett and a dunk by Allen to restore the margin to 102-93 with 1:13 remaining.

Jared Dudley buried a 3-pointer to get the Bobcats within 102-96, but Paul Pierce hit a pair of free throws and Allen added four in a row to seal the victory.

"They are going to make a run, you have to understand that," Garnett said. "I thought their rotation was really good, they were forcing us to take shots from outside, in the post they were physical with us. They have some guys that can shoot the basketball. In the end of the day we made stops, and won the game."

After having to leave his last game after just 13 minutes due to an eye injury, Jason Richardson had a huge game with 30 points for Charlotte.

"We were down 17 and I think cut the lead to about five or six points," Richardson said. "We did a lot of things good tonight, but it's just one game. We'll have to continue this over."

Boston shot 65 percent in the opening period mostly behind the interior play of Perkins.

The unheralded center was 4-of-5 from the floor and had 11 points in the quarter, helping the Celtics outscore Charlotte in the paint, 18-8. He finished with nine rebounds and five blocks.

"It is always good to see a teammate have a big game, especially for Perk," Garnett said. "He is an emotional player, tonight he was active for us."

Boston played a strong second quarter outscoring the Bobcats, 28-18. Allen nailed one of his three first-half 3-pointers to cap a 18-5 run and supply the Celtics with a 51-37 lead with 3:52 left in the quarter.

"We got down too much too early and from there we're digging a hole," Charlotte coach Sam Vincent said. "I thought our energy was better in the second half. I thought our defensive fight was better in the second half, and that made a big difference."

After just two quarters, Boston held a 61-46 advantage and shot a blistering 52 percent (22-of-42) from the floor.

For the most part, Friday's matchup was nowhere as exciting as the first meeting between the teams, when Allen drilled the game-winning 3-pointer as the clock expired to defeat the Bobcats, 96-95, on November 24.

Allen was hot from outside again, connecting on 5-of-7 shots from the arc.

Charlotte kept it close with the 3-point shot, making 11 of their 26 attempts in the contest. Matt Carroll got the start in place of Jeff McInnis - who was waived prior to the game - and chipped in with 13 points.

Raymond Felton added 22 points and 10 assists for Charlotte. The Bobcats dropped to 4-10 all-time in the series and fell to 4-22 on the road this year.

"A big part of what we're trying to see is continued growth from Raymond Felton," Vincent said. "And tonight was a big step in that growth. I'm really happy with his performance tonight."

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