CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Even without their Big 3, the Boston Celtics proved to be too much for the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists to help the Celtics beat the hapless Bobcats 94-82 Sunday night despite playing without three of their star players.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were given the night off to rest and did not even make the trip to Charlotte, N.C.

But the Celtics won anyway, as Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass each scored 22 points to help complement a long and productive night from Rondo, who logged 42 minutes playing on the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back.

“Rondo said, ‘Hey, I’m ready for 48 (minutes),”‘ Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “And I said, ‘There’s no doubt about that.’ He ended up with 42, which wasn’t bad.”

Rondo came out briefly at the end of the third quarter after taking a shot to his right biceps but did return.

“I wanted to play 48 to see where I was conditioning-wise,” Rondo said.

Rivers said it was a big win considering the Celtics were without three guys who combine for 49.2 points. He said that’s a great sign as the Celtics begin gearing up for the postseason.

“I keep saying our locker room is as tight as maybe it’s ever been,” Rivers said. “They cheer for each other. They pull for each other. They wanted to win this game. They really did. Because, when you sit guys, people just assume you’re going to show up and play. And our guys, you could see in their demeanor in the locker room. I didn’t know if we were going to win tonight, but I knew we were going to play hard.”

Bradley hit 9 of 14 shots and finished one point shy of his career high. His 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter put the Celtics up by seven.

“Rondo is our leader and he played the whole first half and kept us going,” said Bradley. “Having a player like that on your team just kind of keeps you going.”

Center Greg Stiemsma also stepped up for the Celtics.

He started in place of Garnett and tied a career high with six blocks and altered a few other shots. More importantly, he stayed out of foul trouble.

“That’s my role to come out and play physical and play with energy,” Stiemsma said. “Some nights they call it a little tighter than others and I have to get a feel for that right away. Tonight it set the tone early on how I was going to play.”

The loss was the Bobcats’ 16th straight, tying a franchise record set earlier this season.

Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 22 points.

“You prepare anticipating (the big three) were going to play,” Henderson said. “When they start their bench guys — even though they’re still really good players — it’s a little different game. It just didn’t turn out well for us.”