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Down to their fourth center because of injuries and with their shots constantly clanging off the rim, the veteran Boston Celtics turned to a smothering defense.
It was so effective there was little suspense in their 10th straight win while Michael Jordan fumed.
Ray Allen and Glen Davis scored 16 points apiece and the Celtics overcame their obstacles in a 93-62 rout of Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, leading the angry owner into the locker room for a postgame tongue-lashing of his listless bunch.
Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 11 rebounds and got to sit out the fourth quarter as the Celtics weren't threatened after halftime.
"We're beat up right now," Garnett said. "We're scrambling. We're finding ways to win and we're doing it with defense. ... We get some of our guys back and I think you'll really see who we are at that point."
Boston played its second straight game without Shaquille O'Neal, who rested his sore right calf. With Jermaine O'Neal (knee) still sidelined and Kendrick Perkins (knee surgery) out until February, rookie Semih Erden started at center.
It didn't matter, not with the Celtics allowing no more than 16 points in any quarter. The Bobcats shot 34 percent and committed 22 turnovers in an ugly effort that continued a disappointing start to the season.
Jordan, who sat courtside, decided to address the team after the game instead of coach Larry Brown.
"If you're going to play soft and don't execute and don't play hard, you're going to get embarrassed and we got embarrassed," Brown said. "You beg people to play hard and do the right thing. That's not what's coaching. You don't coach effort. You coach execution, but it starts with me. I've got to do a much better job."
Nazr Mohammed scored 14 points and Stephen Jackson added 13 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, who got miserable performances by Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin in their second straight loss.
"I don't see any grit and that really surprises me," Brown said.
The Bobcats barely avoided their worst offensive output in team history as the Celtics continued to keep surging Miami at a distance atop the Eastern Conference.
"It was a horrible shooting night for us, but we still had a double-digit lead mostly throughout the game," said Boston guard Rajon Rondo, who had eight assists and six turnovers. "Tonight when we turned it over, we made them turn it right back over."
Boston shot just 44 percent, a stark contrast from its 53 percent shooting in its win streak coming in. Paul Pierce was held to eight points on 1-of-9 shooting, but the Celtics more than made up for it by completely shutting down one of the league's worst offensive teams.
Erden, the 7-footer from Turkey, helped the cause with 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while clogging the middle as Charlotte tried to drive.
"They'll talk a lot about him in Turkey tonight," Allen said. "He deserves the credit because he played well for us."
Wallace, who made his first All-Star game last season, never got going. He had nine points on 2-of-15 shooting with a combination of bricked jumpers, missed layups and rejections in the lane.
Augustin missed all eight shots, had just one assist and committed four turnovers, while Boris Diaw took only two shots in 35 minutes. And with sixth man Tyrus Thomas (strained left calf) missing his second straight game, the Bobcats had no spark off the bench in their fifth straight loss to Boston.
It wasn't until Dominic McGuire's basket with 2:05 left that Charlotte reached 60 points and avoided the lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The Bobcats scored 59 points in a loss at Boston to open last season.
"With all due respect to Michael (Jordan), it's not embarrassing to him. It's embarrassing to us and our families," Wallace said. "We're the ones out there on the court playing lackadaisical, playing like we don't care, with no effort and no fight."
The Celtics turned a 42-32 halftime lead into a rout in the third quarter. It allowed Garnett to play less than 24 minutes, Pierce 28 and Allen 30 while Shaquille O'Neal didn't even dress. Now, coach Doc Rivers is giving his veteran team two days off from practice with no game until Wednesday against New York.
"Doc does a great job," the 38-year-old O'Neal said, "of managing the old, antique cars."
This program aired on December 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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