Bobcats rebound behind Mullens to beat Boston
The Boston Celtics left Time Warner Cable Arena green with envy on Monday — thanks in part to the Charlotte duo Ramon Sessions and Byron Mullens.
Sessions drilled a 18-foot jump shot off of a screen from Kemba Walker with 25.7 seconds left, helping the Bobcats defeat the Celtics, 94-91, for their 12th victory of the season.
Sessions and his teammates took a lot away from Monday night's win.
"Continue to be poised and take your time no matter what," he said. "(Boston) came back, jumped on us and got a little lead. We just kept staying strong. Gerald hit a good shot. We had a good play at the end that coach drew up that got us an open 15-footer."
Perhaps the biggest contributor of the night for Charlotte was Mullens.
The third-year 7-footer scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds In only his fifth game back from a right foot injury.
"It's the beard," joked Mullens after Monday's game. "I was out six weeks. I've got fresh legs. Me and our trainer (Ed Lacerte) trained really hard while I was out that six weeks. My ankle is starting to loosen up now. Up in Philly, it was sort of tight. It sucked having three rebounds (on Saturday), but tonight I think made up for that."
The Celtics (27-24), who had already lost All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo (right ACL) and rookie forward Jared Sullinger (lumbar disc) to injury in the last couple of weeks, were dealt another blow.
Late in the third quarter, guard Leandro Barbosa suffered a left knee injury after a Bobcats' offensive possession. He was carried off the court and did not return.
After the game, Barbosa exited the locker room under his own power, but team officials say they believe Barbosa has a season-ending left ACL injury.
"I don't have much to say right now. We're falling like flies right now," said Boston forward Kevin Garnett. "We got the news (of Barbosa's injury) when we came in the locker room. Obviously, it's tough. It's just tough all the way around. You mesh with these guys and all of a sudden you see their season ending. We're grinding right now on top of back-to-back emotional games. Tonight was a very, very tough game playing a young group. I didn't think we did a good job in transition. It was just more mental than physical. My hat goes off to them. They played well."
The Bobcats (12-39) capitalized on Boston's lost momentum from the injury, taking a 75-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Mullens was a catalyst for his team in the quarter, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds.
"It's big time," said guard Kemba Walker of Mullens' performance. "We need that from him. He can do it. We've got to get him to do it every night."
A veteran Boston squad remained solid and used the intermission between the third and fourth quarter to refocus.
The Celtics went on a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter to take a 82-77 lead, as Charlotte appeared headed for yet another late-game collapse.
However, the Bobcats' veteran players stepped up and answer the challenge, including Gerald Henderson making a 3-pointer with just under a minute left to pull his team with a point, 91-90.
After Jason Terry missed a crucial 3-pointer on Boston's ensuing possession, Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap called timeout to set up the Bobcats last gasp at a victory.
"When we broke the huddle, I told Kemba and Gerald let's get a two-for-one because I think there were 35 seconds left with 17 seconds on the shot clock," Sessions said. "We just needed to give ourselves another chance in case we do miss."
That quick pace caught the Celtics off guard, as Sessions took a hand off from Walker and connected on an uncontested jumper, sinking the shot on a solid swish.
Garnett, who recorded his 13th double double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds, missed a jumper with 16 seconds to go that would have put his team within one point.
Walker collected the rebound and was fouled immediately by Terry. Walker sunk both of his free throws, and Charlotte held on for just its seventh home win of the season.
The Bobcats have one more game left on their schedule before the All-Star break — a road contest at the Eastern Conference's third-best team in Indiana (31-21).
"This is a very good win for us, especially with the Celtics coming in on a very good winning streak," Mullens said. "They are a good team and a veteran team. For us to buckle down and come up with that win kind of reminded me of the first 10 or 15 games we have of the season where we were winning games decided by four or six points. We're just getting back to that. Hopefully, we can keep it up. We've got one game before break. It's going to be a tough one against Indiana. We've just got to make a statement."