A two-game winning streak looked promising for the Charlotte Hornets’ pursuit of defense. Then, Sunday happened.
The Hornets’ streak of eight quarters not giving up 30 points came to a crashing end in the second quarter, when the Boston Celtics piled up 39. That led to a 21-point halftime lead and a 119-103 Celtics victory.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 16-16. They are off for the Christmas holiday until Wednesday in Brooklyn, when they play the first of consecutive games against the Nets.
The Celtics (19-13) had an exceptional shooting quarter in the second, making 14 of 24 attempts from the field and six of eight from 3-point range. But just as costly was the Hornets deficient rebounding: In the second, the Celtics beat the Hornets on the boards 16-12.
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving scored 17 points in the first quarter, making six of seven shots from the field and all three of his 3s. He finished with 25 points, only because there was no need for him to play extended minutes after halftime.
The Hornets got 21 points from Kemba Walker.
Three who mattered
Kyrie Irving: He set this game’s storyline immediately, making his first four shots.
Marcus Morris: He was central to the Celtics controlling the boards
Kemba Walker: Kept the Hornets in it first quarter with 12 points.
▪ With the tighter, more experience-weighted rotation Hornets coach James Borrego is playing, 36-year-old Tony Parker has been getting heavy minutes. Borrego said pre-game that part of managing Parker’s body is not just his total minutes but how long he goes each stretch: Borrego said he tries to avoid playing Parker more than 6-to-8 minutes without a rest.
▪ The Celtics had a 40-minute team meeting after Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks before the locker room was opened to media. Coach Brad Stevens called that discussion “raw,” but constructive. He said he mostly listened, rather than talked.
▪ As well as the Celtics shot in the first half Sunday, the Hornets’ bigger problem might have been the rebounding: 27 for the Celtics to 16 for the Hornets.
▪ The Hornets didn’t give themselves much chance to keep pace with the Celtics’ explosive offense when they shot 3-of-17 from 3-point range in the first half.
▪ Former Charlotte 49ers star Cedric Maxwell, who played for the Celtics and now does analysis on their radio network, told several Charlotte media pre-game he’d hoped for a care package of sweet tea.
▪ The Celtics got back two starters from injury Sunday: Center Al Horford and forward Morris..
▪ Hornets guard Malik Monk played in the third quarter, his first minutes in three games.
They said it
“A lot of those meetings start out like Festivus and end up with hugs.” – Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the “raw” 40-minute team meeting his team had Friday, comparing it to the famous “Airing of the Grievances” Seinfeld episode.
“Great players never surprise me. We’re here in New England with a 41-year-old quarterback.” – Stevens on how well Parker has played at 36, comparing him to New England Patriot Tom Brady’s longevity.
D OFFENSE: The Celtics’ defense smothered them and missing so many 3s amplified the problem. Only saving grace was fewer turnovers
F DEFENSE: They let a smaller Celtics team dominate them on the boards.
C- COACHING: They were due for a loss, but this one got away thoroughly in the horrendous second quarter.
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