By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
In his first trip back to Charlotte since leaving the Hornets for a four-year, max contract with the Celtics, Kemba Walker was given a hometown hero’s welcome. Introduced as if he was still a member of Buzz City, Walker’s pregame tribute came with a standing ovation, and it was the last thing Charlotte fans had to cheer about in a 21-point win for the Celtics, 108-87.
The Celtics tried feeding Walker from the jump, too, but Walker’s game-opening layup couldn’t drop, and the Celtics as a team dropped just one of their first eight field goal attempts of the night. But the team picked it up from there, converting on eight of their next 10 tries, and carrying a 30-20 lead into the second quarter thanks to 14 points from Gordon Hayward.
A tribute video and standing ovation for Kemba Walker in Charlotte ???? pic.twitter.com/FhaNnE1rET— #KembaWalkerDay on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 8, 2019
Stifling the Hornets’ (already limited) scoring options, the Celtics took a nine-point edge into the half, and put this game away with a third quarter that saw the Green outscore the Hornets by a 33-24, led by a key three dropped by Walker in what finished as a 14-point night for No. 8.
While this was Walker’s night, Hayward was the star of the evening for the second straight game, finishing with 20 points (Hayward went 9-for-16 from the floor) to go with 10 rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes. It was good for Hayward’s second 20-point, 10-rebound game of the year (he had a grand total of zero of those with the Celtics last season.)
Javonte Green also provided a lift, with a bench-best 12 points behind makes on five of his nine shots.
Jaylen Brown, meanwhile, made his return to the C’s lineup after an infection put him on the shelf for three games with an illness and infection, and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 32 minutes as Boston’s starting shooting guard.
Walker was not the only player going against his former team, of course, as Thursday also marked Terry Rozier’s first game against the Celtics since moving from to Charlotte in the sign-and-trade that brought Kemba to town. It was a rough night for Rozier, too, as he dropped just one of his 11 shots, finishing with three points by the night’s end.
Boston’s victory was good for their sixth straight, as the team has yet to suffer a defeat since their loss to the Sixers in Game 1.
Up next, the Celtics will travel to San Antonio for a Saturday night meeting with the Spurs.