Boston Celtics crush Charlotte Hornets in offensive fiesta, 134-106
After losing three players in their last game against the Chicago Bulls (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Dwight Howard), the Charlotte Hornets came into their matchup with the Boston Celtics at an even greater disadvantage than usual despite riding a season-high five game winning streak and Boston big man Daniel Theis being out with a hamstring injury of his own.
Howard was able to play tonight, but Celtics won the tip anyway, getting on the board immediately with an Aron Baynes dunk. Treys by Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown gave Boston an early cushion, but former UConn star Kemba Walker kept the Hornets in it for much of the first, and a pair of buckets by Howard got the Hornets back to within one possession with 5:30 to go in the first. Despite Kyrie's 16 first-quarter points, Charlotte managed to end up trailing by only six to finish the frame with Boston up 37-31.
Greg Monroe got Boston further ahead with an early bucket to open the second quarter, making his presence felt early after logging a DNP-CD in Boston's last game against the New York Knicks. He quickly powered his way to the basket soon after, converting an and-one for good measure. Monroe continued to punish new Hornet Willie Hernangomez inside, and a Marcus Morris trey at the nine-minute mark gave Boston its largest lead of the night at 47-33.
Frank Kaminsky and Michael Carter-Williams (remember him?) cut the lead to ten soon after, and Walker to just four after raising his shooting to 7-for-7 from the floor for the night to put the score at 51-47 with 4:30 left in the half. Irving stopped the bleeding with a quick layup, and the two teams would trade baskets for the next several possessions, including a brutal dunk by Howard on Baynes. That dunk would spark a duel between the big men which paired nicely between Irving and Walker's own duel, but the Celtics came away with the lead at the half, up 67-59.
Baynes got Boston on the board quickly to start the third, followed by a steal and dunk by Jaylen. Al Horford got on the board at the 10:30 mark, pushing the lead back to 14, and Irving pushed it to 15 shortly after. Jayson Tatum and Brown piled on the hurt, giving the Celts a 19-point lead with 8:30 left in the third. Kyrie got hot from deep late in the third, and extended the lead to 24 despite a trey from Walker. Charlotte fought to stay in it, but buckets from Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart kept the lead at 24 to end the third Boston up 103-79.
Morris opened the final frame with a make that sent the lead to 26, and another and-one by Moose kept the Hornet push at bay soon afterwards. Morris and Monroe would push the lead to 29, and a trey to Abdel Nader to 30. Free throws by Semi Ojeleye tied Boston's season high of 124 with 6:15 left, and Rozier broke it with a trey with just over four left in the game. Terry and Semi extended the lead to 30 with two minutes remaining, and Gino made one of his more memorable appearances this season behind a season-record offensive performance of 134-106 Celtics.
The Celts next face the Rockets in Houston this Saturday, March third at 8:30 EST.