Celtics complete the comeback against the Hornets, keep the winning streak going, 90-87
In yet another grind out affair, the Boston Celtics found a way to win down Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, and took the Hornets down 90-87. This was certainly not a pretty win but nevertheless the team showed heart and battled back without the help and leadership of their stars.
The Celtics' first quarter was undoubtedly the ugliest they've played all season long. Of course it started out horrifically once Kyrie Irving got accidentally nailed in the face by an Aron Baynes elbow. He left the game and didn't return as he was suffering concussion like symptoms. From then on, the first quarter for the Celtics was straight out of a horror film. They finished the quarter 5-19 from the floor and shot 0-7 from three. The offense was in disarray and without our two facilitators in Horford and Irving, things didn't look good.
Boston came out in the 2nd quarter and played a little bit better thanks to Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin, both of whom ignited the Cs offense. Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes helped the pick-and-roll get going and opened up some space for the guards to penetrate. Boston scored 30 points in the quarter and matched Charlotte point for point. At the half, the Hornets led 57-41. Rozier led the Celtics in first half points with 9 while Frank Kaminsky scored 14 points for the Hornets.
Gang green outscored Charlotte in the 3rd quarter and clawed their way back into the game a bit by making it a 12 point game by the end of the period. Again, the catalyst Rozier was the leader of the offense and got his teammates some open looks. By the end of the quarter it was 76-64 Charlotte.
At the start of the fourth, the Celts came out with high energy on both ends of the floor and a shot by Rozier, three by Theis and Jaylen Brown immediately cut the Hornets lead down to three, 77-74 with 7 minutes left to play. Boston finally took the lead thanks to a Jaylen Brown layup that made it 80-79. The Hornets really began to crumble on both sides of the ball and the green team took advantage of it.
With just over 3 minutes left in the game, the Celtics found themselves up 84-79, and had limited Charlotte to three points in the entire fourth quarter. Jayson Tatum made it 86-81 with a terrific move to get to the basket with just over a minute left, however Kemba Walker converted on a tough and-one to pull the Hornets back within one with 45 seconds to go. On the next inbounds, Marcus Morris got a great look off a Rozier pass and nailed a 21 footer to put Boston back up by three with 23 seconds left. Kemba Walker made the ensuing layup to make it a one point game, and Boston turned the ball over immediately once Rozier was trapped on the sideline stepping out of bounds. Walker had a good look to put the Hornets up but missed it and Rozier hit the two following free throws to make it 90-87. Again, Charlotte was tasked with trying to tie it up but they once again botched the inbounding play and the Celtics miraculously pulled another win out down their three best players.
For Boston, Shane Larkin contributed 16 points off the bench which was easily his biggest performance of the season. Terry Rozier added in 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists while Jayson Tatum put up 16 points as well. Marcus Morris shot an efficient 5-10 for 14 points. For the Hornets, Kemba Walker led the way with 20 points.
With the winning streak now at 11, the Celtics (11-2) are riding high, even with Kyrie Irving going down due to an injury. No word on his condition yet but obviously with Horford and Irving both experiencing concussion like symptoms, the Celtics will have to likely grind it out should both miss any more extensive time. The next challenge is Sunday afternoon against the Toronto Raptors, tipoff set for 3:30pm E/T.
Image Credit: Getty Images/Boston Celtics Twitter
Follow Kevin Yazhari on Twitter @KevKevYazhari