The Bobcats, coming off their most tightly contested game thus far, try to bounce back against Pierce and the Boston Celtics.
Charlotte, in its inaugural season, lost 102-100 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday after holding a 94-86 lead with 5:53 left.
“We are moving on,” Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “We’re going to Boston. We have to clean up our act in the fourth quarter. We have to clean up our act defensively.”
The Bobcats now face a Celtics team riding the momentum of a clutch performance from Pierce, who returned from taking a hit in the mouth in the final minute to make a 17-foot fallaway jumper as time expired that gave the Celtics a 90-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
“If I was new to the league I’d be surprised,” Boston center Mark Blount said of Pierce’s play. “That’s what he does.”
Pierce was down after getting hit in the mouth during a battle for a rebound with 34 seconds left. He played with a mouth guard following seven hours of dental surgery Monday after being hit with an elbow in a 107-73 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday.
But after slowly walking over to the bench with the trainer during a timeout, Pierce came back out for the final possession. He finished with 20 points.
Gary Payton scored 15 points for Boston and became the 29th player in NBA history to reach 20,000. He became the fourth player to reach the mark with the Celtics, joining Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Robert Parish and John Havlicek.
Payton was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason, but took a little more than three months before deciding to accept the trade.
“I’m just fortunate to be there, to be able to have an opportunity to go to 20,000 points,” Payton said.
Charlotte had five players in double figures against the Bucks, led by Primoz Brezec, who tied his career high with 20 points. Jason Hart added 19 and matched his career high with 12 assists. Eddie House scored 15, all in the first half.
House started for point guard Brevin Knight, who injured his left wrist while breaking a fall in Saturday’s game. Knight’s status for Friday’s game is uncertain.
House, in his fifth season, made his 21st start overall. He started 10 games apiece for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 10): Bobcats - 4th place, 2 1/2 GB, Southeast Division. Celtics - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bobcats - Brezec, 17.5 ppg; Okafor, 12.0 rpg; Hart, 8.5 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 26.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg; Payton, 8.0 apg.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bobcats - 0-1 on the road. Celtics - 1-2 at home.