HORNETS HOLD OFF CELTICS AT HOME
Written by David W. Walters
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)
The Charlotte Hornets (6-15) were able to finish off the visiting Boston Celtics (7-13) for a 96-87 victory on Wednesday night at the Hive. The win was the second in a row for the Hornets, who are coming off a four night layoff following their win last Friday night.
The first half wasn’t pretty, as both teams shot poorly in what amounted to a 40-45 halftime deficit for the Hornets. Charlotte woke up in the second half though, going on an 11-4 run to open the third quarter, with a Gerald Henderson three putting the Hornets up for good about halfway through the period.
The Celtics made a strong run during the closing minutes, but big plays by Kemba Walker and some nice post moves by Al Jefferson held off the late charge for the victory.
The Celtics just didn’t have an answer for Big Al down low and Jefferson had a fantastic game, putting on a low post clinic to the tune of 23 points and 14 rebounds. “This is two games in a row that we’ve been able to close it out,” said Jefferson following the game, “I was thinking too much in the first half. I just had to be myself and relax, and that’s what I did in the second half.”
Walker had a good all-around game with 18 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals and Lance Stephenson had another good showing with 13 points and a shimmy after getting fouled while making a basket in the second half.
The Hornets finally got Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back on the court after a 12 game absence as he was recovering from a foot injury. The forward was aggressive in his return to action, finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
Marvin Williams had a strong showing off the bench with eight points and five boards as it becomes more evident that his impact as a reserve gives the Hornets a needed spark off the bench.
Rajon Rondo had a triple-double for Boston with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Jeff Green and Marcus Thornton led the Celtics in scoring with 16 points a piece.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)
An intriguing matchup in the game came down to the Zeller brothers, Cody and Tyler, both of whom have recently been inserted into their teams respective starting lineups. Cody finished the game with nine points and two rebounds while Tyler finished with 13 points and eight boards.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford didn’t let up during the Hornets four day layover and ran his players hard in practice during the break.
“I think you could tell when you walked into the locker room that guys are happy. I think they know that the way they played tonight was a byproduct of how they’ve practiced,” said Clifford after the game.
“You know, after 20 games, there’s a lot of groups that don’t want to practice three times. They just want to play the games. But our guys were good. They had good practices, and hopefully that’ll set a tone for this next stretch of games.”
Rookie P.J. Hairston didn’t dress out for the game after taking what Clifford said was “an unexcused absence” from Tuesday’s practice.
Next up, the Hornets hit the road to face Marc Gasol and a tough Memphis Grizzlies team on Friday night.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.