BOSTON — The Charlotte Bobcats led wire to wire and ended the Boston Celtics’ four-game winning streak with an 89-83 victory Wednesday night.
The win ended a two-game losing streak and brought the Bobcats back to .500 at 4-4. Boston fell to 4-5.
Former Celtics center Al Jefferson scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He converted an offensive board with 17.7 seconds left to give his team a four-point lead as the scrambling Celtics almost wiped out an eight-point deficit in the final 1:24. His basket made it 87-83 and wound up sealing the verdict.
Jefferson led five Bobcats in double figures. Guard Gerald Henderson scored 13 points and had nine rebounds and five assists, and guard Jeff Taylor came off the bench with 12 points for Charlotte, which led by as many as 16 points (in the second quarter).
Forward Jeff Green led the Celtics with 19 points but missed two free throws that could have brought his team to within a point with 7:26 remaining.
Guard Jordan Crawford had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in the loss.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, coaching his second game since missing three days after a heart procedure, saw his team jump out quickly and lead by 11 points 6:35 into the game.
The lead was six at the end of the first quarter and, despite Boston runs of 10-0 and 8-0 in the second quarter, the visitors saw their biggest lead cut in half but still led by eight at halftime.
The Celtics, down by 12 just two minutes into the second half, closed their deficit to just three with 1:08 left in the third quarter. Charlotte scored the last two baskets of the quarter and led by seven.
Boston failed to lead in the fourth quarter for the first time this season.
NOTES: Both teams were missing frontcourt players. Charlotte F Josh McRoberts was out for personal reasons (expected to return Friday) and Boston was without F Jared Sullinger (bruised knee). Sullinger is averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. “Sully is probably our best back-to-the-basket player,” said coach Brad Stevens, who was set to give F Kris Humphries some of Sullinger’s minutes. Humphries didn’t play Monday against Orlando. … The Celtics complete a three-game homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, while the Bobcats host the Cleveland Cavaliers. … Wednesday was the nine-month anniversary of Boston G Rajon Rondo’s knee surgery. He looked good during a pre-game workout on the court. … Jefferson, a former Celtic, said coming back to Boston is always special. “It’s always great to come back to my home, my first NBA home,” he said.
Harden appeals flopping fine
Houston Rockets guard James Harden is not going down without a fight after becoming the first NBA player this season to receive a $5,000 fine for flopping.
Harden plans to appeal the ruling to the NBA, CSNHouston.com reported Wednesday, saying he doesn’t want to be labeled as a flopper.
The fine resulted from his second offense in the first seven games of the season. After the first flop in a Nov. 5 game against the Portland Trail Blazers, he received a warning as stipulated by NBA policy.
“The first one, I really did get hit in the face,” Harden told CSNHouston.com. “I’m trying to appeal that right now. I really did get hit in the face. It was just a late reaction.”
The second flop came came during a game agaist the Los Angeles Clippers while chasing a loose ball.
“I don’t want to be known as a flopper or a guy who is looking to get calls, that type of player,” Harden said. “That type of player I’ve never been. It was a bad call.”
If Harden wins his appeal, one flopping infraction would be wiped out and the fine would be rescinded. If it stands and he is called for flopping again this season, the next fine would increase to $10,000.
The 24-year-old Harden is averaging 24.9 points, 5.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game this season.
Knicks, Nuggets talking trade
Will they or won’t they? That remains the key question as the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets continue discussions on a possible trade that would send Iman Shumpert to Denver in exchange for Kenneth Faried heading to New York, according to a report on ESPN.com.
However, the web site reported Wednesday about a new twist in the saga, that “multiple teams” are now interested in Shumpert once it became known that the Knicks were interested in potentially dealing the savvy defensive specialist.
Another report in the New York Daily News said the Shumpert-for-Faried talks “have intensified” but gave no further details or whether a deal was imminent or not.
Faried would provide the Knicks with their biggest immediate need, someone to replace injured center Tyson Chandler, who is out for at least a month with a fractured fibula.
According to a variety of media reports, Denver is willing to deal Faried, but the price is the key — and it’s not so much about money.
The Nuggets reportedly also want draft picks as part of a Faried deal, which it is unclear if the Knicks are willing to agree to or not.
Faried averaged 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds last season, his sophomore campaign in the NBA.
While the Knicks value Shumpert, they also have several surrounding cast members that can fill his role, including J.R. Smith, Beno Udrih and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., in the frontcourt.