The Good: Kendrick Perkins - The big man scored 19 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, ran the floor and even showed quick hands, poking the ball away from opponents on a few occasions, on defense. This was his first big game since hurting his shoulder prior to the All Star break, missing three games and playing sporadically in his return.
The Bad: Killer instinct, or lack thereof - The Celtics jumped all over the Bobcats last night but watched Charlotte climb back within 5 points in the final two minutes and still needed the starters to pull it out down the stretch.
The Ugly: Jason Richardson's performance - Granted Paul Pierce's stats - 13 points (5 of 15 from the floor), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 turnovers - were less than impressive. But Richardson, who I like, played nearly the entire game and shot throughout it. He was 38% from the field (10-26), 31% (4-13) from long distance and to his credit 100% from the line (6-6). Clearly he has to carry the offense, especially with Gerald Wallace out with a concussion. It just reminded me of Pierce trying to lead the Celtics to victories over the last several seasons. It is not a good place to be.
Stat of the Night: Rajon Rondo pushed the ball at times and overall played a solid game. But his 16 assists really stood out. He threw some fantastic bounce passes on the break. A couple in particular reached their target from seemingly impossible angles and looked Steve Nashesque.
Highlight of the Night: Towards the end of the first quarter Rajon Rondo stepped in front of a lazy Emeka Okafor pass and sprinted down court. Strangely no Bobcats chased him, although Rondo did have a full head of steam when he intercepted the pass, as opposed to the other 9 players on the court who were standing still. Regardless Rondo decided not to shoot and slowed to a stop instead. Out of nowhere Perkins showed up, got a hand off from Rondo and threw down a reverse dunk as Matt Carroll watched. To be honest it is the kind of play that would make me angry if done against my team. But Charlotte was not hustling and Tommy Heinsohn called it a "Cousy pass", which is about as strong an endorsement as one can give.
Turning Point: To be fair I never thought the Bobcats could win the game. Still it was not until KG knocked down jump shots on the front and back end of a couple Raymond Felton free throws that I started to feel like it was over. And then Perk poked the ball away on defense to KG. Garnett immediately kick started the break by throwing it ahead to Rondo who drew the defense, threw a bounce pass to Ray Allen and watched as Allen dunked to finish off the Bobcats for good. After that the Bobcats hit shots and the Celtics hit free throws to round out the scoring. But the steal/dunk sequence sealed the deal.
Surprising Development: At one point in the fourth quarter the Celtics had Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Pierce, James Posey and Rondo on the floor. And outside of Garnett no one was looking to rebound, much to the chagrin of Tommy Heinsohn. Surprisingly Heinsohn criticized the Celtics' "one and done" approach to offense. I've gotten used to Heinsohn's blatant homerism and always perk up when he is critical of the team. And he was right. The offense was depressing and the Bobcats got back into the game.