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Same old story: Celtics blow big lead, still win

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- If Doc Rivers had his druthers, his team wouldn't be blowing double-digit leads, which the Boston Celtics have done in each of the past three games, all at home.

But coming out on top in all three, which has run the team's winning streak to six games, makes it a little easier for the coach to accept.

"You always don't like it," Rivers said after the Celtics blew an 18-point, second-quarter lead before regaining control to beat the lowly Charlotte Hornets 100-89 Monday night. "Tonight was a definite let-up. ...

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

Playing the third game of a season-high, five-game homestand, the Celtics (20-17) got Rajon Rondo's third triple-double of the season and the 26th of his career to move to three games over .500, matching their best mark of the season.

The Celtics used a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to finally subdue the Bobcats.

The loss was the fifth in the past six games and 23rd in the past 25 for Charlotte (9-28).

Rondo had 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He credits former teammate Keyon Dooling, who now works for the club, with helping the locker room attitude during the winning streak.

Boston's Paul Pierce had 19 points, despite going 2-for-8 from 3-point range. He also contributed six assists. Avery Bradley scored 16 points, thanks largely to four 3-pointers. Jeff Green scored all 11 of his points in the second quarter.

Bradley, playing in his seventh game after coming back from two shoulder surgeries, was 4-for-19 from 3-point range coming into the game, but he went 4-for-7 from behind the arc against the Bobcats.

Bradley's stellar defense returned as soon as he did. On Monday night, it looked as if his shot was back, too.

"He missed a lot of games, and when you miss a lot of games ... you can play defense when you come back," Rivers said of Bradley, who was lost after the second round of last year's playoffs. "Everything else is timing, and he's starting to get his timing, and he's getting point-blank looks.

"They still, in the league, don't think he can shoot because the shots he's getting are unbelievable. I mean, they're wide open, and it's every night. We want him to just keep shooting it, and now they're going in."

Hakim Warrick and Ramon Sessions led the Bobcats with 16 points apiece, while rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Charlotte, which never led, trailed 50-32 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half. The Bobcats scored the last three points of the half to close to within 11.

The visitors then scored the first nine and 13 of the first 15 points of the second half, tying the game at 58-58 with 8:16 left in the third quarter. The Celtics scored seven straight points to regain the lead but still led by only four before the 9-0 fourth-quarter run.

Rondo was credited with assists on Boston's first four baskets and had nine points, six rebounds and five assists in the first quarter. The Celtics went on an early 11-0 run for a 13-2 lead.

A flagrant foul on Charlotte's Gerald Henderson on Kevin Garnett (seven points, 10 rebounds) in the second quarter angered the Celtics forward, who pointed at Henderson. Cooler heads prevailed. Soon after, Charlotte's Kemba Walker picked up a technical for arguing a non-call, and Ben Gordon was whistled for a technical late in the game.

Walker shot just 4-for-16 and Gordon 5-for-14 from the floor. They scored 12 points apiece.

"We're a capable team," Gordon said. "We're going to have our moments where we can play well. We've just got to be more consistent. That's kind of been the story of our season.

"We've shown flashes, but we just haven't been able to sustain them for a consistent period of time. We've just got to try and get better as the season goes on."

NOTES: Boston beat the Phoenix Suns 87-79 Wednesday despite blowing a 14-point lead, and it topped the Houston Rockets 103-91 Friday after squandering a 17-point advantage. ... Rivers opened his postgame comments talking about the weekend football games, which he called "awesome." ... The Celtics held their sixth annual Seats For Soldiers Night, which included season ticket holders donating over 1,200 seats to service men and women and their families. Boston big man Chris Wilcox held a video conference with soldiers in Afghanistan before the game, and the Kandahar base was shown on the video screen several times during the game. ... Wilcox, out since Dec. 18 with a thumb injury, has returned to practice. He was seated on the bench in uniform Wednesday night, but he didn't play. ... Rivers coaches against his son, rookie Austin, for the first time when the New Orleans Hornets visit Wednesday. ... Charlotte plays host to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.
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