Celtics dominate for 48-minutes, top Hornets 119-103
After dropping their last three games, the Boston Celtics continued their home stand on Sunday night, facing the Charlotte Hornets in TD Garden. The last time these two teams met, Kemba Walker stuck dagger after dagger into our collective hearts, making mince meat of what was supposed to be a tough Celtics defense.
Would Kemba dominate again? As it turned out, yes, but thankfully only during the 1st quarter.
Kyrie Irving kicked the Celtics off with an impressive 9-0 start, but like Friday night, that lead quickly dwindled as Kemba Walker continued his hot shooting against us, going 6/8 from the field for 14 points in the first. Kyrie had 17 points of his own, only missing 1 out of 7 attempts, keeping the Celtics narrowly ahead.
End of 1Q: Celtics 29, Hornets 26
Looking to start the 2nd as they did the 1st, Boston jumped out to a 7-0 run, courtesy of 5 quick points from Terry Rozier and a putback layup by Marcus Morris after a huge Jaylen Brown steal. This extended the Celtics lead to 10, prompting a Hornets timeout. Morris was a welcomed sight all night, particularly in the 2nd as he knocked in 10 points, contributing in every aspect of Boston's 39-21 differential in the second frame.
The highlight of the half honors, however, went to Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward. While Hayward was quiet most of the game, he riled up Celtics faithful, turning instant angst to uproarious elation with a beautiful alley-oop finish.
END OF 2Q: Celtics 68, Hornets 47GORDON HAYWARD ALLEY OOP!!!!! pic.twitter.com/MQEsS6k9wz— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) December 23, 2018
Coming out of the locker room with a comfortable lead, the Celtics didn't rest, rather opting to do what contenders do: place their proverbial feet on the throats of their opposition. Using a lethal combination of intense defense and smooth offensive execution, Boston saw themselves with a commanding 90-59 lead with about three to go in the 3rd.
It was pretty much garbage time for the game's remaining 15-minutes, with both teams emptying their benches.
The Celtics led by as much as 33 points, but allowed the Hornets to outscore them 36-25 in the 4th, making the game's final score appear to be closer than it really was.
FINAL SCORE: Celtics 119, Hornets 103.
Al Horford showed his value once again tonight (10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assist, 4/4 FG, +19). Impressive stats considering Big Al only logged 19 minutes. As always, Horford stabilized the offense and helped anchor the defense, flexing his muscles in the paint, cleaning up the glass, making the right screens, pinpoint passes to cutting teammates, and more.
Marcus Morris Sr. notched 12 points on 5/10 from the field, ending up with a whopping +26 for the night.
Kyrie Irving added to his first quarter tally of 17 points, finishing the game with 25 on 9/12 from the field.
Jayson Tatum added 17 of his own on 6/13 FG.
Kemba Walker started hot, but was held to just 7 points over the game's final three quarters.
The Celtics dominant performance tonight could not have come at a better time as the Celtics schedule continues to tighten, starting with a Christmas Day showdown against Philly.
Watch tonight's full game highlights here:
Follow Edward Babaian on Twitter: @bojixbabaian
Photo Credit: NBA.com