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The Boston Celtics hosted a struggling Charlotte Hornets team Monday night, who were hungry for a win after dropping seven of their last ten games and four in a row.

The Hornets, without Jeremy Lamb (inflamed metatarsal) for the third meeting between the two clubs this season - both won by the Celts with strong performances by Isaiah Thomas (31 points and 11 boards the first outing, and 26 points in the second) - came out flat, unable to score while Boston came out with all cylinders firing. Al Horford, Jae Crowder, and Thomas all scored in the first two minutes, and Bradley joined the club at just under five minutes into the game.

Cody Zeller provided some early spark, helping getting Charlotte's offense going, and Kemba Walker soon began to warm up, pulling the Hornets back to within one just shy of the four-minute mark before getting fouled on the perimeter and taking a two point lead briefly until a Horford and-one under the basket until Marco Bellineli  took it back with a three with just under a minute left in the quarter. A Jaylen Brown and-one followed by a near-full court attacking layup gave the Celtics a four-point cushion going into the second.


Marvin Williams dropped a trey on the Celts to start the next quarter, and a  pair of quick turnovers by Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko looked like a momentum shift might be underway, but neither team could break away from the other until some acrobatics by Brown on both ends of the court put Boston up five at the 7:30 mark in the second quarter. Charlotte fought back and tied it up at 48 points, undoubtedly aided by a pair of ill-advised Marcus Smart trey attempts early in the shot-clock.

Several minutes of ugly basketball followed, with neither team able to hit a field goal, but a controversial call on Bradley sent Nick Batum to the charity stripe for three attempts, of which he sunk two. Horford broke the offensive drought with a pair of buckets, but Walker kept the Hornets close until Thomas started to heat up. A pair of quick offensive fouls from Cody Zeller signaled another momentum shift, sending the Celtics into halftime up by six points.


The second half started with Crowder barely sinking a long two before the clock expired, followed by a hard fall after a foul by Williams that gave several Celts pause, helping him up. Both teams struggled over the next few possessions, until Cody Zeller converted one of a pair from the charity stripe. Charlotte stayed close, but a balanced attack pushed Boston back up seven with under six minutes in the third quarter.

Crowder began to heat up with a pair of quick buckets, but then went cold despite some crisp ball movement. A trey by Horford gave the Celts their biggest lead of the night, and a bucket from Bradley pushed it to twelve. The Hornets clawed back to within eight before Olynyk closed out the quarter missing one of a pair of free throws.


Olynyk opened the final frame with a quick three, answered back by Charlotte's seven-footer, Frank Kaminski, for a long two. Thomas began to heat up in the fourth as usual, though, and would push the Celts' lead to 13. The Hornets would claw back to within five at the eight-minute mark, but a flurry of buckets by Thomas - including a crazy sequence seeing Jerebko fling a desperation heave to Isaiah - put Boston back up ten.


Charlotte refused to roll over, largely on the effort of Walker and Ramon Sessions, who peskily kept getting improbably buckets, chipping away at Boston's lead. Brown would even see himself get stuffed from behind, but redeemed himself on the next play with a breakaway layup. A pair of buckets by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller at just under three minutes to go made a game of what looked like it might end up a blowout moments earlier.

Thomas answered with a quick two, then stole it on the next possession. A a pair of missed shots by Horford and Thomas and several failed desperation heaves by the Hornets seemed capped off by a Thomas 20-footer with 33 seconds remaining, with the Celts up eight. Cody Zeller managed a quick dunk, though, bringing the game back to two possessions and using just four seconds of game time. A pair of trips to the line for Crowder and Horford and a missed trey by Kemba put the lead back to ten, causing the Hornets to wave the white flag, Boston winning 108 - 98.


The Celtics next face the New York Knicks at home Wednesday, January 18th at 7:30 p.m. EST.


For more stories about the Hornets on CelticsLife, click here. For more stories by Justin, click here.








Photo via Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 1/16/2017 09:48:00 PM Edit
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