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NBA -- Celtics Win Over Hornets as Bradley Nets 30


PhilBoxing.com


With so much at stake for a final playoff spot in the East for both teams, it seems like only one team played with such sense of urgency proportionate to the implications of a win Monday night. Led by guard Avery Bradley who top-scored with 30 points and 8 rebounds, the Boston Celtics defeated Charlotte Hornets 116-104 Monday at the Time Warner Arena.

Lacking in energy, the home team Hornets started flat and were promptly down 10-2 in the opening minutes of the game. By half time, that Boston lead would increase to 12 (56-44) as the Celtics were locked-in offensively and defensively, forcing 8 turnovers and had 9 offensive rebounds in the first half.

The Celtics were also a step quicker than the lethargic Hornets as they hustled and won most 50-50 lost ball possessions, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk by one-time (and still a hometown favorite) Charlotte player Gerald Wallace in one Celtics fast-break play after yet again a Hornets turnover.

The trend continued in the 3rd quarter as the Hornets, who were without starters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, fell behind by as many 22 points. The Hornets though, led by guards, Kemba Walker, who scored 28 points and 12 assists in the game, and Mo Williams, who contributed 19 points off the bench, mounted a furious 4th quarter rally that obviously fell short. The Celtics built a 19-point fourth-quarter lead that the Hornets cut to six with less than a minute to play. But the Celtics closed out the game with some clutch free throws to secure the victory.

Evan Turner added 15 points, while Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart each had 14 as the Celtics won for the 10th time in the last 16 games.

With the win, the Celtics moved back to the 8th spot in the East and the Hornets stayed at the 11th spot with the loss, falling 1.5 games behind the Celtics.

Playoff Implications for the Hornets

Had they won, the Hornets would have clinched the potential tiebreaker with the Celtics (3-1). But now the series is even at (2-2). Prior to Monday?s game, the Hornets had the chance to tie Celtics at the 9th spot with a win and be half a game behind the Brooklyn Nets for the 8th spot.

Instead they lost ground with just nine games left. They would still have to pass Boston, the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Where is Lance?

Lance Stephenson, whom the Hornets signed last summer to a 3-year, $27.4 million contract, did not play Monday, the first time he sat out a game by DNP-Coach?s Decision. Jeff Taylor started in place of the injured Kidd-Gilchrist and rookie PJ Hairston is being used to come off the bench for 3-pt shooting.

?I?m not saying it?s his fault at all,? Clifford said, ?but we have struggled to find a group that has played well off the bench in these last few games.?

Asked about not playing, Stephenson said: ?It?s out of my hands. It?s in coach?s hands. Its coach?s decision, and all I want to do is stay ready when my number is called.?

Stephenson added, ?Of course. I feel that I can help our team, that I could have helped tonight.? when asked if he was upset over the DNP-Coach?s Decision.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ananias Diaz.


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