Celtics overcome letdown to beat Bobcats


Celtics overcome letdown to beat Bobcats

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce knew it could happen. He had seen it play out during his career: Younger, struggling team comes into town to face veteran team on a roll; veteran team builds a lead, gets comfortable, and younger team fights back.

Who prevails?

On Monday the Boston Celtics led the Charlotte Bobcats by as many as 18 points in the second quarter. Rather than dominating the second half, the Celtics watched the Bobcats erase the deficit and tie the game with 8:20 to go in the third.

"These are the types of team that if they get any confidence, they can really get it going," Pierce said. "Record really doesn't matter, that's with any team in the league, especially when they're playing against the Boston Celtics. I remember when I was on a lot of losing teams and we came in and got our confidence rolling, we felt like we could win these games. So we have to go out there and try to get off to a strong start and not take them lightly."

Pierce remembers games against Anfernee Hardaway and Grant Hill that fell under that category.

This time around, the veteran team broke the tie, went on a 7-0 run, and outscored the younger squad, 24-19, in the final quarter to earn their sixth straight victory, 100-89.

"We've come back from 18-point leads," said Rajon Rondo. "You're never safe in this league. You can have a double-digit lead, but it's a matter of time before guys make shots. They were struggling in the first half and hitting shots in the second, hitting some tough shots. They banged a couple in, got rhythm-three's, and got to the free throw line."

With the win, the Celtics improved to 20-17. The Bobcats dropped to 9-28. Their fight didn't go unnoticed, though.

"I thought we did (let up) at times tonight," said head coach Doc Rivers. "One of the things -- and every coach I talk to about them says the same thing -- they just keep playing. That's hard to do, but it's really nice to see. Those guys, they started off so well and then went on this struggle, and yet they come out and put the effort out every night. They're giving you their best."

The Bobcats will continue to fight their way through the season -- "Can't lay down, nobody is going to feel sorry for you," said Ben Gordon -- while the Celtics will look to fight off any targets on their backs and go after those on other teams.

"The other teams are NBA teams and they're going to keep fighting and making shots," said Rivers. "And when they do, it's nice that we can catch it instead of losing those leads and losing the game."

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 


Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.