CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Missing their big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics still survived their third road game in as many nights, holding off the Charlotte Bobcats 94-82 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday.
Point guard Rajon Rondo held the Celtics together with 20 points and 16 assists, while teammates Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley added 22 each.
Garnett, Pierce and Allen weren't even in Charlotte for this game, which dropped the Bobcats to 7-52, the worst record in the NBA. Pierce (jammed left big toe) and Allen (sore right ankle) were both injured. Boston coach Doc Rivers had pre-determined that center Garnett, in his 16th season, would sit out Sunday's game after playing in Toronto Friday and New Jersey Saturday.
The Bobcats got 22 points from shooting guard Gerald Henderson. Charlotte kept the margin within six until midway through the fourth quarter, when the Celtics spread it to double-digits and eventually to a 90-76 margin with two minutes left.
The defeat tied a franchise-high 16-game losing streak (set earlier this season) and assured that the Bobcats would at least share the worst record in the NBA with the Washington Wizards. Prior to this season, the Bobcats had never been alone at the bottom of their Southeast Division, much less hold the NBA's worst record.
The Celtics spread their three-point halftime lead to six entering the fourth quarter, with shooting guard Bradley scoring 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Rondo finally came out of the game for a short break in the third after playing the game's first 32 minutes.
Despite losing their three most prominent players, the Celtics led by as many as 12 points in the first half and had a 52-49 margin at the half. Rondo became more of a scorer with Garnett, Pierce and Allen all out, and he constantly broke down Bobcats point guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker off the dribble.
Rondo had 16 points and 11 assists at the half, so he scored or assisted on 17 of Boston's 21 first-half baskets. He continuously worked the pick-and-roll with power forward Brandon Bass, who finished the first half with 11 points and five boards.
Defensively, the Celtics did a great job of protecting the rim, so the Bobcats were heavily dependent on jump shots. Celtics center Greg Steimsma, making just his second start of the season, was limited to four points and two rebounds in the first half, but two early blocks seemed to intimidate the Bobcats' drives.
Henderson made six of 12 first-half shots for 12 points and D.J. White added 10 points off 5-of-6 shooting.
But Charlotte's point guards were almost non-existent, with Augustin and Walker combining to shoot 2-of-6 in the first half and totaling eight assists.
Notes: The Bobcats signed small forward Jamario Moon for the rest of the season. Moon, who's played for four other NBA franchises, was with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the development league, averaging 17.1 points. The Bobcats needed immediate help at the position, with Corey Maggette out the rest of the season, but the team also sees Moon as someone it might want back next season...Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the plan was always to rest Garnett in the third game on consecutive nights. They planned to play Pierce against the Bobcats until his jammed his left big toe late in Saturday's victory over the New Jersey Nets....The Bobcats replaced power forward Byron Mullens in the starting lineup with DJ White. Mullens has struggled the past three games defensively. He was particularly lit up by Detroit Pistons forward Jason Maxiell Friday...After the Nets game, Garnett and Pierce stayed in New York, where the Celtics next play Tuesday against the Knicks.