Eduardo Najera hit a clutch three-pointer. Nazr Mohammed drilled a clutch free throw (okay, he missed one too). Gerald Henderson and Shaun Livingston supplied most of Charlotte’s scoring. Paul Pierce missed a point blank layup that would have kept the Celtics alive. Kwame Brown looked halfway useful. And the Charlotte Bobcats, despite missing the ejected Stephen Jackson for the entire second half of tonight’s game, handed the Boston Celtics their 13th loss. Tonight’s contest was, simply put, strange.
The Celtics are now 5-7 on the second night of back-to-backs, which, well, sucks. At one point in the game, and this anecdote is probably related to Boston’s “second night of back-to-backs” record, Gerald Henderson dribbled outside to the perimeter. I’m not quite sure where Henderson’s defender was, but Kevin Garnett stood in the vicinity watching Henderson dribble. Keep in mind, this was Kevin Garnett, he of boundless energy and effort bordering on insanity — but Garnett just watched. Henderson turned toward the hoop, looked at the ten feet between him and the closest Celtic (who wasn’t even attempting to close out), and calmly drained a jump shot. And Garnett — one of the league’s hardest workers, for God’s sake! — just watched and twiddled his thumbs.
When I saw that, I figured Boston would lose. I just didn’t know how it would go down. I definitely didn’t think I’d see a back-breaking three off Eduardo Najera’s fingertips. Or Gerald Henderson reliving his Duke days. Or Shaun Livingston regaining his potential-filled youth. If you asked me if all those things would happen tonight, I would have told you that you had a better chance of finding Osama Bin Laden.
Ray Allen didn’t break the NBA’s three-point record, but did make both of his long-distance attempts while scoring 25 efficient points. Rajon Rondo didn’t break the NBA’s three-point record — and, if I were a betting man, I’d wager my future house that he never would — but did score 10 first-quarter points to go along with his game total 14 assists. And, also, zero points after the first period. Kevin Garnett pulled in 14 rebounds, but the Celtics got their asses handed to them on the glass (50-37).
Charlotte’s bench scored 44 points. Boston’s scored 15. And it’s not like Charlotte’s second unit is star-studded, either. If I played fantasy basketball, I wouldn’t exactly be hyped to land Mohammed, Livingston, Najera or Henderson in my draft. Paul Silas’ second unit was hooping, and he showed confidence in them by letting most of them play down the stretch run. They all rewarded that confidence, collectively holding Boston at arm’s length.
I’m not sure we can learn very much from tonight’s game, but it’s a disappointment. With every loss, Boston falls closer to losing their perch as the Eastern Conference’s top team. It’s tough to find energy on the second night of a back-to-back, especially on the road, especially after flying from Boston to Charlotte. But the C’s need these wins, and would be better served in the future if they would just take care of business no matter the circumstances.
Oh, yeah. And Kwame Brown decided to act tough. Also, just for shits and giggles, re-read the first sentence of this post.