The Celtics were without their captain Tuesday night in Charlotte -- it was the first night of a back-to-back and he was nursing a handful of nagging injuries, so Paul Pierce agreed to take the night off as the C's took on the lowly Bobcats. Against a team that was 13-50 and riding a double-digit losing streak, they figured they could get by without him.

Of course, they were wrong. Pierce watched from the sidelines as his team got thumped by the NBA's doormats, 100-74, and he could hardly believe his eyes.

"That just wasn't our team," Pierce said. "I was looking at that team and I was looking around, wondering where I was at. I must have been in someone else's locker room. That wasn't a team I recognized."

Less than 24 hours later, the Celtics were back in Boston to host the Toronto Raptors, and they needed this one. A lot. They'd abruptly ended their five-game winning streak with two losses in three days, and they were starting to feel a shot at a high playoff seed slip away.

Their response was an emphatic one. The Celtics exploded for a season-high 112 points, including 58 off the bench, and cruised to a blowout victory over the Raptors, 112-88, at the TD Garden. Things were sluggish midway through the first half, and the Raps briefly reclaimed the lead, but the outcome still never seemed in doubt. The C's weren't going to be denied this time.