CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Ray Allen and Glen Davis scored 16 points apiece and the Boston Celtics overcame a thin front line with smothering defense in cruising to their 10th straight victory, 93-62 over the listless Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.
Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 11 rebounds and got to sit out the fourth quarter as the Celtics weren’t threatened after halftime.
Boston played its second straight game without Shaquille O’Neal, who was resting his sore right calf. With Jermaine O’Neal (knee) still sidelined and Kendrick Perkins (knee surgery) out until February, rookie Semih Erden started at center.
It didn’t matter, not with the Celtics allowing no more than 16 points in any quarter. The Bobcats shot 34 percent and committed 22 turnovers in an ugly effort in what’s been a disappointing start to the season.
Nazr Mohammed scored 14 points and Stephen Jackson added 13 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, who got miserable performances by Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin in their second straight loss.
The Bobcats barely avoided their worst offensive performance in team history as the Celtics continued to keep surging Miami at a distance atop the Eastern Conference.
Boston shot just 44 percent, a stark contrast from its 53 percent shooting in its win streak coming in. Paul Pierce was held to eight points on 1-of-9 shooting, but the Celtics more than made up for it by completely shutting down one of the league’s worst offensive teams.
Erden, the 7-footer from Turkey, helped the cause with 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Wallace, who made his first All-Star game last season, never got going. He had nine points on 2-of-15 shooting with a combination of bricked jumpers, missed layups and rejections in the lane.
Augustin missed all eight shots, had just one assist and committed four turnovers, while Boris Diaw took only two shots in 35 minutes. And with sixth man Tyrus Thomas (strained left calf) missing his second straight game, the Bobcats had no spark off the bench in their fifth straight loss to Boston.
A despondent Bobcats coach Larry Brown took aim at his team before the game, questioning the energy and defensive intensity. But a similar problem, a stagnant offense, put them in an early hole.
Wallace was either missing from the outside or barreling into defenders for charges in a 1-for-7 first half. Even with Pierce and Allen not getting their first field goals until late in the second quarter, the Celtics took a 42-32 halftime lead.
Despite a team-best 12 points as he played against the inexperienced Erden, Brown benched a healthy Mohammed at the start of the third quarter for the offensively challenged Kwame Brown.
He only hit backboard on his first shot and later missed three free throws, counting an extra shot for a lane violation, during Boston’s 11-5 run to start the period that put the game out of reach.
It wasn’t until Dominic McGuire’s basket with 2:05 left that Charlotte reached 60 points and avoided the lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The Bobcats lost to the Celtics 92-59 to open last season.
Notes: Shaquille O’Neal said he could’ve taken a pain injection and played, but thinks it’s better to “take the next couple days off and try to get it right.” The 38-year-old O’Neal, who hopes to play Wednesday against New York, added that coach Doc Rivers “does a great job managing the old, antique cars.” … Rivers, who played under Brown, said his former coach occasionally calls him with questions. “I’ve always found it weird because he’s Larry Brown, you know what I mean?” Rivers said. … Bobcats G Gerald Henderson (knee) said he’s been cleared to return to practice Monday.
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