With 7:46 left in the game and the Celtics holding on to a tenuous lead — does this group know any other kind? — of eight points, Courtney Lee pulled up and launched a 3-pointer.

The shot hit hard off the glass, shaking a number of those in the alleged crowd from their slumber. The ball then flew through the strings, and as Lee turned to head back up the floor he had the decency to wince.

But these Celtics have no room to look a gift hoop in the mouth, nor can they worry about the aesthetics. After going on to finish off the Bobcats, 96-86, last night, the Celts now have a modest two-game winning streak.

“I was like, man, if this is going in, this is our night,” Lee said of his shot that constituted three of his 11 points. “We need to go ahead and get this win. We had a couple of other crazy shots that went in for us, so it worked out.”

Having lost to these same Bobcats by six points 12 nights prior at the Garden, the C’s came into this one with malice in their hearts — “We owe those guys, honestly,” Avery Bradley said — and simply played harder than their hosts. Whereas old friend Al Jefferson had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the prior matchup, he had 14 points and just three boards last night.

The key may have been the way the Celtics leaned heavily on Gerald Wallace, whose minutes had slipped in the last 10 days or so. The former Bobcat was back to being the “Crash” the locals knew and loved (he entered the game off the C’s bench to a nice ovation). Wallace wound up with a season-high 17 points, beating his previous best by three.

Jordan Crawford hit six late free throws to finish with 21 points, and Brandon Bass had 16 as the Celts improved to 6-10.

“I thought he might play well today just because we talked a little (Sunday) and I think he’s been a little frustrated coming off the last stretch of games,” coach Brad Stevens said of Wallace, whose 36 minutes were his most since the third game of the season. “You kind of could sense that he was going to be focused and ready. He’s such a competitive guy. I really enjoy having him on our team.”

Wallace was part of a bench crew that altered the game’s course, as the C’s reserves outscored the Charlotte pine 39-15. The Bobcats led by as many as 10 in the opening period, and the Celts made just two of their first 13 shots. But Wallace started going to the hoop, and teamed with Vitor Faverani, Phil Pressey, Lee and Kris Humphries to lead a 12-0 run to open the second quarter.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Wallace said. “I just wanted to go out and be aggressive and play the way I’ve been playing — or the way I know how to play. I had a talk with coach, and the main thing he wanted me to do was just go out and play the way I know how to play. Don’t worry about nothing else. Don’t even try to figure out how to fit in or what to do; just go out and play basketball and do what you’re capable of doing.”

The starters again saw the lead disintegrate in the third quarter after the Celtics went ahead by 11. The Bobcats tied the game before Bass’ hoop from the lane in the last minute provided a two-point cushion entering the fourth.