OFFSEASON

Celtics flop against the Bobcats, 94-89

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Celtics flop against the Bobcats, 94-89

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Even before the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers knew something wasn't right.

His team didn't have nearly as much focus or attention to detail as it displayed just 24 hours earlier.

It really shouldn't have been that big a surprise, when you consider how the Celtics have been all season in back-to-back games.

Great focus the first night, little to no focus the next.

Monday was another example of that as the Celtics suffered a 94-89 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, less than 24 hours removed from an impressive win over Orlando.

"What do we have, 13 losses?" said Rivers. "I know seven of them have come on back-to-backs. It's the same script on five of them, where we win a decent game the day before and come out and just play . . . you could see it in the first half; we came out, kind of goofing around. Then all of a sudden you try to win it in the fourth? You don't have anything left."

When it comes to back-to-back games, the Celtics' play has truly been like night and day.

In the first game of back-to-backs, the C's are 12-1.

On the back end, they're just 6-7 following Monday's loss.

At no point in the Monday's game did the C's exert full control over the situation, which, in a sense, gave Charlotte every reason to believe it could win.

Give the Bobcats credit.

Down the stretch, they made all the big shots, all the big plays, and to a man, they deserved to win.

But the C's can't help but feel this was yet another game that they gave away.

"I can't even look at the other team and say what they did well," said Boston's Ray Allen, who led all scorers with 25 points. "We didn't play up to the standards we need to put out there."

Making it even more surprising was the Bobcats spent the bulk of the game without their leader, Stephen Jackson.

After being called for fouling Kevin Garnett in the second quarter, Jackson voiced his displeasure with the call to an official.

Tech number one.

Jackson wasn't done . . . until his repeated chatter to the same official resulted in a second technical and the automatic ejection that came with it.

His departure did little for either team.

"It don't matter who's on the floor," Garnett said. "At some point, especially when you're home, your best player goes out . . . the team rallies around that, the energy in the building was very solid, very alive. So at some point, you had to anticipate them being energetic about that."

It was a much-needed victory for the Bobcats (22-29), who came into the game having lost four of their previous five games.

"It's probably the biggest win of the season so far," said Bobcats coach and former Celtic Paul Silas. "You're talking about a great team and we needed it. This is just a wonderful victory for us and I think it's something that can compel us to do even better."

For the C's, it should be a wake-up call that their focus has to amped up considerably in back-to-back games for them to have the kind of finish to this season that they want.

"Every year, we have some type of dilemma," Garnett said. "We have different dilemmas each year. I guess this year it's back-to-backs."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of five teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. Their the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen easily. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens, though, the Celtics are in the race. Celtics fans might be disappointed after Thursday night. But we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA