Celtics pull away in second half to beat Hornets, 104-86


Celtics pull away in second half to beat Hornets, 104-86

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Boston Celtics may have had a new-look starting five against the Charlotte Hornets, but the end result on Saturday was no different than it was when the two faced off on Thursday – a Celtics victory.

Boston (2-1) pulled away in the second half and never looked back as they handily defeated Charlotte, 104-86.

But this one came with the Celtics resting four-fifths of their starting five, with the only regular starter with the first group being Jae Crowder.

The thinking behind the move was two-fold:

By sitting most of his starters, they actually wind up getting two days off because the team will not practice on Sunday.

And with Crowder starting, he would play a lot more at power forward and not as much at his usual small forward position.

These are the kinds of things that you do in the preseason, never knowing when that lineup might come in handy for a few minutes at some point after the regular season starts.

If there was one drawback for Boston, it would have to have been the elbow Terry Rozier took to the face in the second quarter with 7:41 to play in the half.

Charlotte’s Christian Wood was driving to the lane when he leveled Rozier on a play that officials ruled was a flagrant foul.

Fortunately for Rozier and the Celtics, it was only a cut lip that was closed with seven stitches.  He did not return to play, but Rozier was on the Celtics’ bench afterwards.

More than anything else, keeping the starters out gave ample opportunities to a Boston bench that’s loaded with players needing to get on the floor and prove themselves.

R.J. Hunter has struggled in the first two preseason games. But on Saturday, the 28th overall pick in 2015 showed signs of being the kind of player the Celtics need him to be.

In addition to knocking down a couple shots, he also did some nice things defensively. Hunter had seven points in the first half.

Boston also got a solid game from Tyler Zeller, who has seen his role fluctuate often during his time as a Celtic.

He got the start on Saturday, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first half.

Near the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth, Boston used an extremely Green team – as in very young.

To put it in perspective, 21-year-old James Young was the “veteran” on the floor.

But to their credit, they were able to take a 14-point lead and nearly double it which was certainly a nice confidence booster for the players as well as the Celtics coaching staff.

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

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Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST  - Smart's importance to C's, dissecting the East

Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 


Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

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Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention. 

And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST - Smart's importance, dissecting the Eastern Conference

The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.

Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.  

With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3. 

Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game. 

With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn. 

In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points. 

And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.

In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench. 

This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time. 

But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out. 

Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.

But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory. 

For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy. 

Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward. 

Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second. 

Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.

And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.