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Celtics try to build on first win vs. Bobcats


(Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics hope to build on an impressive season opener when they kick off the home portion of their 2009-10 schedule by welcoming the Charlotte Bobcats to TD Garden.

Paul Pierce scored 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, pacing Boston to a 95-89 win over the Cavaliers and spoiling the regular season debut for the Cleveland tandem of LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal.

"They took us out of a lot of our sets that we've been working on in practice," said James. "They made us get into a lot of hot situations, meaning a late (shot) clock and a lot of one-on-one basketball. They're a really good defensive team."

Last season, the Cavaliers won their first 23 home games, on the way to a 39-2 mark at Quicken Loans Arena.

Kevin Garnett, the 2007-08 defensive player of the year who missed 25 games last season because of knee surgery, scored 13 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots for Boston.

The Celtics, who were ousted by Orlando in seven games in the conference semifinals, just one year after winning an NBA title, won their first game in Cleveland since December 18, 2004. Boston had lost 11 in a row at Quicken Loans Arena, including the playoffs.

Rasheed Wallace, who spent the last five-plus seasons with Detroit before joining the Celtics this past summer, hit 3-of-6 three-point attempts for a 12-point night. Ray Allen scored 16, while Rajon Rondo ended with eight points, six rebounds and 10 assists.

"We didn't feel as though we played our best basketball," said Allen. "There were some things we wish we could have back, but not playing our best and still winnings, we're happy about that."

Charlotte, meanwhile, is coming off its best season in franchise history, but the team is still on the prowl for its first ever postseason bid.

A great coach in Larry Brown and a few minor tweaks in the offseason have the Bobcats thinking playoffs despite playing in a Southeast Division that looks significantly improved this season. Charlotte was on the verge of a playoff berth last year and the team won a franchise best 35 games but dropped seven of the last eight, finishing four games behind the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons.

Like most Brown teams, the Bobcats were one of the better defensive clubs in the NBA last year but need a lot of help on the offensive end after scoring a league-low 93.6 points per game.

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