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Celtics clinch top seed in East, rout Bobcats

Apr 6, 2008 - 2:38 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Even with its trio of All-Stars on the bench, the Boston Celtics proved too much for the Charlotte Bobcats with Saturday's 101-78 victory.

Leon Powe scored 22 points and James Posey added 19 as Boston picked up its league-leading 61st win and finished with the best record in the East for the first time since 1987.

"We're still working on things as we get ready for the playoffs," Posey said. "We're getting guys opportunities to play and giving guys rest."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers decided to rest Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen while Paul Pierce remained in "Beantown" with his fiancee for the birth of his baby girl.

The Celtics took control of the game early and trailed for a total of just 16 seconds.

"We established the break and the low-post game early with Leon," Rivers said. "If we can do that to start games, I'm happy."

Posey's driving layup with 9:57 to play in the opening quarter gave Boston the lead for good. Posey capped that 9-0 run with a 3-pointer for a 14-6 lead.

"We played with outstanding spirit and emotion," Rivers said. "You could see it early."

Sam Cassell capped a 9-2 run in the second quarter to put Boston ahead by 16 points and carried a 64-50 advantage into the locker room.

"We all believe in ourselves," Powe said. "We just knew we had to bring our 'A' game and that we couldn't have any letdown. We tried to keep the energy level up and just kept playing defense tonight."

Charlotte was never able to muster a challenge in the second half as it cut the deficit to single digits just four times in the third quarter, but still trailed by 13 heading into the fourth.

"We always think a run is going to come," Bobcats guard Earl Boykins said. "We just didn't make the run and we just didn't make the plays we needed to get back in the game."

Brian Scalabrine split pair of free throws midway through the fourth quarter to give Boston its largest lead of the game, 97-76, and ended an 11-1 burst.

Emeka Okafor had 17 points and Raymond Felton added 11 and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, which was again without Gerald Wallace (groin) due to injury.

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