Best story from Celtics 104-97 loss to Hornets - Gordon Hayward is back!

Gordon Hayward was back in action in Boston's 104-97 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in their first pre-season game. There was some obvious rust on him from his one-year layoff, but it was great to see him back in action.

There were no surprises in Brad Stevens starting lineup. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford were the starting-5. Hayward played 22 minutes, scoring 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. He added three rebounds, one assist and even one block.

Al had a balanced game in 15 minutes, notching what might be called a triple-triple - three points, three rebounds and three assists. But Gordon was not the only Celtic to have a coating of rust. The team shot a poor 34.6% on field goals to Charlotte's slightly-better 38.2%. The Celtics were only 19.1% from 3-point-land to the Hornets 30.6%. Boston also lost the rebounding battle 65-56.

High scorer for Boston was Jaylen Brown with 14 points, followed by Marcus Morris with 12. Aron Baynes came off the bench - played only 10 minutes - scored seven points on 3-of-6 from the field and (here it comes) 1-of-2 on 3-pointers. Aron also had the highest plus/minus for his team with a +13, followed by Terry Rozier with a +12. Here is the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy on the Celtics' productive first quarter:

But what Irving saw in the first quarter, which the Celtics exited with a 37-20 lead, had a flash of what waits in store for this team.

“Should have scored more, should have scored more,” he said. “Exhibition season, a lot of makeable shots.

Some other takes from the game. Semi Ojeleye still needs work on his offensive game. He scored only two points on 0-for-8 shooting, but he did grab eight rebounds - and that is a good sign going forward. Rookie Robert Williams only scored three points in nine minutes, but those points came on 3-of-4 shooting from the free throw line. Rob also had two steals. Daniel Theis notched four points, four rebounds, one assist and one block.

But the big story was Gordon's return to action. He moved fluidly out there, and I saw little hesitation. This was only a glimpse of what he can accomplish. And the second-best story? Mrs. Hayward's warning to any-and-all Celtics opponents. Loved it.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Lance King/Getty Images
Video via House of Highlights