Coming into Wednesday night’s game, both the Celtics and Hornets were playing as well as they had all year. The C’s had won two in a row and five of six, while Charlotte was 7-3 in its last 10 games. Yet it was the Hornets’ hot streak that prevailed, with the Celtics falling 111-102 at TD Garden.
Both teams came out locked in to start the first quarter. Even though the Hornets shot 52.6 percent from the floor to the Celtics’ 45.5 percent, the C’s held a 27-25 lead after 12 minutes.
Sparked by their bench, the Hornets went on an 8-0 run midway through the second quarter. That run proved to be the difference at the half, with Charlotte up 56-48 at the break.
The Hornets lead expanded to as many as 14 points late in the third quarter. Inconsistent shooting prevented the Celtics from closing the gap to any less than seven points. Heading into the fourth quarter, Charlotte was ahead 86-74.
With two minutes to go in the game, the Celtics got back within six points and looked poised for one last push. However, the Hornets responded with a quick 6-0 run to go back up 12.
Over the next 30 seconds the Celtics hit a pair of big three pointers, making it 108-102 with 1:14 to play. That’s as close as they’d get, with the Hornets able to run out the clock from there.
Charlotte’s defensive strategy seemed to be based on taking away Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and forcing the Celtics to find other ways to score. That led to a big night for Dennis Schroder, who led the team with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Brown ended up finishing with 21 points, while Tatum had 12. Al Horford posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Former Celtic Terry Rozier filled up the box score for Charlotte. Playing 41 minutes, he scored a game-high 28 points shooting 10-of-18 from the floor and 6-of-11 from three. The Hornets also got an impressive performance from Lonzo Ball, who had a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
This loss drops the Celtics back to .500, at 23-23 on the season. That leaves them 11th in the Eastern Conference, currently just shy of a postseason spot.
The Celtics now have a few days off before returning to action Friday night at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. with coverage beginning at 7 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.