Celtics eliminate the Charlotte Hornets from playoff contention, 121-114
After blowing a 19-point lead in the 2nd half the Boston Celtics rallied from down 7 in the 4th quarter to not only defeat the Charlotte Hornets, but they eliminated them from playoff contention as well. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 32 points on 10-18 shooting (5-11 from three) and 6 assists. Kelly Olynyk was terrific starting in place of an ill Amir Johnson, he had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds and shot an efficient 6-10 from the field.
For the Hornets, Nicolas Batum had a season-high 31 points and 8 rebounds while Kemba Walker chipped in 23 points and 8 assists, but it wasn't enough to keep Charlotte's playoff hopes alive.
The Celtics came out swinging, dropping 71 points in the 1st half and building a 17-point lead heading into the break. Al Horford and Thomas were responsible for a good portion of that early damage with 14 and 19 points respectively to get the Celtics off and running in the 1st half:
In the 3rd quarter the Celtics stretched their lead to as many as 19 points, but the Hornets were able to close the gap and cut the Celtics lead to 6 (92-86) heading into the 4th.
Their rally didn't stop there as they continued to keep the momentum on their side to the tune of a 21-5 run into the 4th quarter and took a 7-point lead with a little under halfway into the final frame:
The C's answered back with a run of their own though, closing the game on a 24-10 run and some big shots when the need them from Thomas and Avery Bradley who iced the game with a pair of clutch three-pointers to send the Hornets fishing when the regular season finishes.
Isaiah chalked up the late game success tonight to coach Brad Stevens dialing up the offense, and just letting it ride:
Thomas attributes Boston's 9-0 run in the 4th to Brad Stevens' play calling: "Brad drew up a play that just kept working 3 or 4 times."
Tonight's win keeps the Celtics hope for the 1-seed alive, with Cleveland losing to Atlanta last night the Celtics trail the Cavs by just a half a game with just two left; although Cleveland holds the tiebreaker with a 3-1 season head-to-head advantage. The Celtics next take on the Brooklyn Nets Monday night in Boston.