Celtics blow out Hornets 134-106

Celtics blow out Hornets 134-106

BOSTON – We have seen Boston’s defense play at an elite level many times this season.

But what would it look like if the offense had one of those kind of nights?

We found out on Wednesday as the Celtics delivered a ridiculously efficient offensive performance in their 134-106 beatdown of the Hornets.

Boston (44-19), winners of four straight, set several season highs offensively including most points scored (134) as well as field goal percentage (.621 against the Hornets; previous high was .595).

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting. Aron Baynes had his third double-double of the season, tallying 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and three assists.

The Hornets, whose five-game winning streak came to an end with Wednesday’s loss, were led by Kemba Walker’s 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting and Dwight Howard’s 21 points who connected on 10 of his 15 shots from the field.

You anticipated the Hornets would not play one of their better games, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hamstring) and Cody Zeller (knee) both out with injuries suffered in Charlotte’s win over Chicago on Tuesday night.

But what we saw on Wednesday was more than just the Celtics taking advantage of a team that was short a body or two.

We saw the Celtics offense at its absolute best, getting any and every shot it wanted all game.

And in doing that, they took that last, all-important step in knocking those great looks down.

Charlotte came into tonight’s game playing great basketball, especially in the first quarter.

Since the all-star break, the Hornets had a league-best point differential in the first quarter of +6.0 while scoring 31.5 points in the quarter which ranked fourth in the NBA.

While they met their scoring average, Boston was even more explosive in the first by connecting on 60 percent (15-for-25) of its shots to lead 37-31 after the first.

Boston’s strong start carried into the second quarter, but the Hornets mounted a comeback to keep the game relatively close for the remainder of the first half.

The catalyst for much of Boston’s scoring in the first half was Irving who led all scorers at the break with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting. The Celtics bench did their part as well, tallying 23 first-half points with Marcus Morris (nine points) leading the way.

Boston’s bench finished with 61 points, led by Morris’ 15 points.

But the Hornets were within striking distance at the half, led by the 1-2 punch of Walker and Howard who had 21 and 15 points, respectively.

The play of Boston’s bench was particularly impressive when you consider one of the key cogs on the second unit, Daniel Theis, was out with a right hamstring injury.

Greg Monroe was the man to get most of Theis’ minutes.

And fortunately for him and the Celtics, Monroe had a matchup that wasn’t just in his favor.

It quickly became a mismatch that Monroe dominated, scoring seven points on 3-for-4 shooting as Charlotte’s Willy Hernangomez had no answer for trying to limit let alone slow Monroe down. He finished with 14 points as one of seven double-figure scorers for Boston.

While Boston certainly felt good about their 67-59 halftime lead, they knew there was plenty of basketball left to be played.

The Celtics came out firing in the third with a 9-2 run capped off by an Irving 3-pointer which gave Boston its biggest lead of the game, 76-61, with 9:37 to play in the third quarter.


NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”