After losing their previous two games, the Boston Celtics are determined to close out the regular season playing better basketball.
The first half of Saturday’s game against Charlotte was a good start along that path, with the Celtics going into the half ahead 71-54.
Boston fell behind 7-0 to start the game, and were down 16-10 at one point in the first quarter. But strong play defensively and some red-hot shooting propelled Boston to a 22-12 spurt to end the first quarter in which they led 32-28.
The Celtics opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to take a commanding 42-28 lead.
Boston would spend most of the second quarter with a lead that hovered around double digits, with contributions coming from just about every player who saw action.
The Celtics were particularly impressive from 3-point range, connecting on 5-of-8 in the first quarter alone. At the half, the Celtics were an impressive 11-for-21.
Meanwhile, the Hornets never seemed capable of regaining that mojo they had at the outset of the game which was surprising when you consider they were literally playing for the playoff lives.
Making matters worse for Charlotte, their head coach Steve Clifford was tossed with 1:09 to play and the Hornets trailing 62-51 after picking up a second technical foul.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game between Boston and Charlotte.
Like most teams, the Hornets had problems keeping up with Thomas and his ability to generate points both in the paint as well as from the perimeter. He led all scorers with 19 points at the half.
Not a lot went Charlotte’s way in the first half, but the play of Walker certainly doesn’t fall under that category. Walker led the Hornets with 14 points in addition to dishing out six assists.
He really filled a much-needed void as the Celtics’ other scorer for most of the first half, finishing with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting with three assists and two rebounds.
Celtics’ ball movement
Boston did a great job of not allowing the ball to stick on either side of the floor which contributed to Charlotte’s inability to defend at a high level. At the half, the Celtics had 21 assists on 27 made baskets.
He’s one of the few players who can come in ice cold off the bench and heat things up scoring the ball within seconds on the floor. He had nine points for the Hornets in just under 13 minutes.
They only had 16 points total in the first half, but they collectively did so many good things for the Celtics and were indeed one of the keys to Boston establishing control of the game near the end of the first and of course, throughout the entire second quarter.
Charlotte’s starting frontcourt
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller had just eight points combined, doing so while missing seven of their eight combined shots from the field. You don’t expect any of them to be out-of-this-world scorers, but they have to be more effective if the Hornets have any shot at competing tonight in a game in which their postseason life is on the line.