|Celtics' improbable win in Charlotte brings back memories of the old days|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 25 November 2007 12:26|
It wasn't at the level of ``Havlicek stole the ball,'' but the Celtics' improbable victory over the Hornets was one they won't soon forget and brought back the memories of the franchise's glory days.
And with an 11-1 record, this team is on the way to joining the elite, sometimes-hated Celtics squads of the 1960s and '80s.
``Everybody is rooting against us. We're a team that everybody is talking about night in and night out,'' forward Paul Pierce said. ``We've got the best record in the game. Everybody is going to be gunning for us.''
The Celtics got the Bobcats' best shot Saturday night, even though Gerald Wallace, Charlotte's top scorer, was out with a strained right calf. The Bobcats had held the NBA's top shooting team to 44 percent from the field. They outrebounded them by seven. They had held Boston scoreless for more than 3 minutes at the end of the game.
Leading 95-93 with 4.7 seconds left, all Charlotte had to do was inbound the ball, get fouled and hit a couple of free throws to hand the Celtics their second loss.
Cue up the tape of late Celtics announcer Johnny Most on John Havlicek's clutch play in the 1965 Eastern Conference finals. The magic returned to the Celtics.
It started with Eddie House, who played the role of Havlicek - or maybe Gerald Henderson in the 1984 NBA Finals or perhaps Larry Bird against Isiah Thomas in the '87 Eastern finals - by knocking away Jason Richardson's inbounds pass.
The Celtics' leprechaun then helped out, as House's deflection landed in Pierce's hands. In the past, with a weaker cast around him, Pierce might have wheeled and forced up a low-percentage shot.
Instead, Pierce had weapons. He whipped a pass across the court Ray Allen, who was shooting 3-of-14, including 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
Allen unloaded a 3-pointer from the left wing just before the buzzer. Swish.
Celtics 96, Bobcats 95.
``It was like the whole play was in slow motion,'' Allen said.
Allen immediately jumped into reserve Glen Davis' arms. Davis carried Allen off the floor. Newly acquired big man Kevin Garnett celebrated with Pierce.
``It was great. It was good to be lucky, because we were not good tonight,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``We were lucky, but we'll take it.''
And like the 1980s when Celtics fans were everywhere on the road with Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, you could also hear plenty of fans cheering in Charlotte. Perhaps the Celtics fans around the country in hibernation since the ugly days of M.L. Carr, Rick Pitino and a parade of mediocre players have returned, too.
``It just shows that Celtics Nation is big,'' Pierce said.
The Celtics huddled around the TV in the locker room after the game, several players putting down the macaroni and cheese they were eating, to watch the replay.
``I just tried to get my hand on it,'' said House, a former Bobcat. ``The rest was history. P got it, kicked to Ray, bam. For the win. That's what it's about.''
The Celtics provided the Bobcats' with their first sellout of the season. Boston heads to Cleveland on Tuesday to play in front of another big crowd.
They're coming to see the new-look Celtics with the old-style swagger.
``I didn't hit a shot all night, but I got my hand on the ball when it mattered,'' House said. ``Ray didn't hit a 3 all night, but he hit that big one when it counted. That's all the matters.''