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Paul Pierce led all scorers with 36 points and pulled down 10 boards, and the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 102-95, on the second night of a back-to-back. Kevin Garnett contributed 24 points as Monday’s victory moved the Celtics into a first-place tie with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic division.
Former Duke guard Gerald Henderson led the league-worst Bobcats with 21 points.
The Celtics got out to a fast start, putting up 33 first-quarter points. Charlotte responded in the second with 35 points of their own, led by Henderson and three three-pointers from forward Reggie Williams. The narrow two-point lead the Celtics took into halftime would be enough, though, as the Bobcats never gained the lead in the second half.
Avery Bradley, one night after a career high 23 points, responded again with a solid outing as the starting shooting guard. Bradley had 11 points and four rebounds filling in for the injured Ray Allen (sore ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (concussion).
Bradley has done everything the Celtics have asked of him this season, starting at point guard and shooting guard as well as playing a key role off the bench.
Boston got this win by winning the hustle game. The Celtics won the rebounding, turnover, points-in-the-paint and free throw attempt categories over the Bobcats. Overall the Celtics have struggled in the hustle department, so Monday’s victory should be an encouraging one for Celtics fans.
Boston and Philadelphia now sit deadlocked at 27-22 apiece atop the Atlantic division. The winner of the Atlantic division is guaranteed no lower than a four-seed in the playoffs, and this season means the team that wins will most likely avoid both Chicago and Miami in the first round.
The New York Knicks are still in the hunt for the division title as well and trail the Celtics and Sixers by two and a half games.