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Bobcats halt Celtics' seven-game win streak

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The term perfection rarely gets tossed around when talking about the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

But after the Bobcats' dramatic 94-91 win on Monday night ended the Boston Celtics' seven-game winning streak, Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap didn't hesitate.

The Bobcats scored the final seven points of the game and came through with four big defensive stops in the final two minutes, and to Dunlap that spelled perfection.

"Probably the last six plays, what we needed was perfection, and we got it," Dunlap said. "It was good to see the execution on both sides, not just the offense. I actually thought the defense was what made the difference down the stretch."

The victory snapped Charlotte's seven-game losing streak and moved the Bobcats to 12-39, which is still the worst record in the NBA. It also gave some life and hope to a team that has lost close game after close game lately.

The Bobcats let a 20-point second-half lead slip away in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, then faltered down the stretch in a loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.

"Whether it's the Celtics or the Lakers or Miami, we've played those people tough as all get-out," Dunlap said. "Now for us to have something under our belt that is of that stature, especially when they were ripping and running with seven in a row, psychologically I think it's going to help us a lot."

"We've just got to continue to grow," said guard Ramon Sessions, who hit a 17-footer for the go-ahead basket with 25.7 seconds remaining. "There are a lot of games we're putting ourselves in position to win down the stretch, and it was one of those things that we got one tonight. We've just got to keep building. As a young team, we've just got to give ourselves a chance and we've got to finish, and we were able to tonight."

The win came against a Boston team that had won seven straight but was clearly tired coming off a 118-114 triple overtime win over Denver on Sunday. The Celtics are now 27-24.

Byron Mullens, in his fifth game back after missing 19 games with an ankle injury, scored the Bobcats' first 10 points and finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Sessions scored 19 points, Kemba Walker had 18, and Gerald Henderson scored 16.

Jeff Green led Boston with 18 points. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 13 rebounds, but Paul Pierce - who had 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in the win over Denver - was held to 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The Celtics led 91-87 after Garnett hit a fallaway shot with 2:15 remaining. Henderson answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 91-90 with 1:01 lefty. Avery Bradley missed a 17-footer on Boston's next possession.

On the next play, Sessions took a handoff from Walker, found himself wide open after Bradley slipped, and nailed the go-ahead basket with 25.7 seconds remaining.

Garnett missed a jumper that could have given Boston the lead with 16 seconds left, and Walker converted two free throws with 13.0 seconds remaining for a 94-91 lead. Boston then got two 3-point attempts in the final seconds, but Pierce and Bradley both missed.

"We got the shots we wanted," Garnett said. "You can't be too ticked because we got good looks at it. We should have had a little better time management, but you know, you can't take anything away from them."

Garnett tried to downplay the Celtics' obvious fatigue.

"It was an emotional game tonight," Garnett said. "A back-to-back game against a young team, and I didn't think we did a good job in transition. It was more mental tonight than physical. My hat goes off to them. They played well."

The Celtics, who have lost Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger to injuries in the past three weeks, suffered another jolt when Leandro Barbosa was carried off the court with a knee injury in the final minute of the third quarter.

Garnett said he feared it was a season-ending injury.

"I don't know what to say, we're dropping like flies right now," Garnett said. "It's tough. Obviously it's tough all the way around."

Notes: The Celtics' triple-overtime win over Denver on Sunday was the team's ninth overtime game of the season, and the fourth that has gone two or more overtimes. The Celtics are 5-4 in those nine games, including 3-1 in games that have gone two or more overtimes. ... Pierce played 54:11 against Denver, and Garnett, Jason Terry, Green and Bradley all played more than 40 minutes. ... Pierce's 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists against Denver were good for his second triple-double of the season, and also made him the oldest player in NBA history to finish with at least 20 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a game. The 15-year veteran's birth date is Oct. 13, 1977. ... The Celtics' winning streak was preceded by a six-game losing streak, and prior to that was a six-game winning streak. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that makes the Celtics the first team in NBA history to sandwich winning streaks of six or more games around a six-game losing streak. ... Rondo missed his eighth straight game after tearing the ACL in his right knee, and Sullinger missed his sixth straight following lumbar disc surgery. ... The teams will meet twice more, March 12 in Charlotte and March 16 at Boston. ... The Celtics will return home to face Chicago on Wednesday, and the Bobcats will play at Indiana on Wednesday.
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