BOSTON – The fourth quarter arrived and the Boston Celtics did what we’ve seen them do so often this season.
They went to the reliable one … their defense.
The Celtics and their top-ranked defense put on a defensive clinic in the fourth quarter which helped propel them to a 90-87 win over Charlotte.
Boston (11-2) trailed by as many as 18 points and went into the fourth quarter down by a dozen.
They opened the fourth with a 10-1 run that brought them within 77-74.
The Celtic surge continued with their lead peaking at five points on two different occasions in the fourth.
“Our defense, you know, went up to a different level in that third and fourth quarters,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens whose team limited the Hornets (5-7) to just 30 points scored in the second half on 11-for-39 (28.2 percent) shooting.
Stevens added, “Guys battled, and that’s been a consistent theme of this team. It has not been an offensive piece of art by any means; but our defense kind of kept us in it.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 90-87 win over Charlotte which extended Boston’s winning streak to 11 in a row.
With an opportunity to play extended minutes, Shane Larkin did not disappoint. He came off the Celtics bench to score a season-high 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting, providing a much-needed offensive spark on a night when most of the Celtics struggled to make shots.
He couldn’t make shots most of the night, but he found ways to still impact the game and kept the Hornets in the game up until the very end. Despite missing 14 of his 19 shots from the field, Walker still had a double-double of 20 points and 11 assists.
His defense on Kemba Walker in the final minute and the shot he made in that span would have been enough to elevate him to stud-status. But he provided more than that, tallying 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting with seven rebounds in 23 minutes, 24 seconds.
Don’t know much about him? That’ll change in time. Bacon came up with a bunch of big shots in the first half for Charlotte, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench.
The Celtics rookie continues to shine in ways that few expected this soon. He got stronger as the game went on, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the second half.
He’s had a few games this season when his shot for most of the night wouldn’t fall. And yet when the game is on the line, there he is to deliver a much-needed big play for the Celtics. Brown tallied a double-double of 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds with seven of his 10 points coming in the fourth.
Credit Aron Baynes for once again making life miserable for Howard who had more turnovers (7) than points scored (6). Ouch!