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.
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."