Charlotte Hornets

Greg Monroe seizes his opportunity to make an impact for the Celtics

Greg Monroe seizes his opportunity to make an impact for the Celtics

BOSTON – Greg Monroe isn’t all that different than most NBA players who want to play as much as possible.

But Monroe is a realist.

He recognizes the talent around him, acknowledges how well the Boston Celtics have played this season and understands the importance of being patient for his time to shine.

By no means was the 6-foot-11 big man the only standout in Boston’s 134-106 massacre of the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

But the fact that he was impactful, particularly on offense, was a good sign.

Monroe was one of seven double-figure scorers for Boston (44-19), tallying 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.

There was a stretch in the game when Boston went exclusively to Monroe who just abused Charlotte’s Willy Hernangomez on four straight possessions with Monroe scoring three baskets in that span.

“I definitely felt like I got a pretty good rhythm,” Monroe said afterwards.

And while it’s highly unlikely that Hernangomez will be getting any all-NBA defensive votes this season, there’s one thing folks have to remember about Monroe.

More often than not, he’ll be matched up with an opposing team’s big man.

And with his size, strength, length and footwork on the post, more times than not he will have an advantage on the block that you can bet the Celtics are going to try and exploit as much as they can.

“We’ve been on the other end of that when Greg gets it going,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You could tell he had a real bounce to him.”

Even before tip-off, Stevens pointed out how Monroe came in for individual work on Tuesday with some of the team’s younger players and looked really good.

“You could kind of see he was going to have a real good impact when he got in tonight,” Stevens said.

Monroe, who came in averaging 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in six games with Boston, also benefited from what the Celtics knew would be an expanded role for him on Wednesday.

Daniel Theis, one of Boston’s top backup big men this season, was going to be out because of a sore right hamstring injury.

Normally Theis is the first big man off the Celtics bench.

So when Stevens said prior to the game that the bulk of Theis’ minutes would go to Monroe, the opportunity for Monroe to have his best game as a Celtic was obvious.

And having played against Boston for years, Monroe knows what Celtics fans are looking for from all the players donning the Green and White.

“I know what these fans expect out of the team and this team has been playing at a high level,” Monroe said. “I just wanted to come in and, like I’ve been saying, just try to enhance what they already got going. It’s just been tough for me getting a rhythm, especially with my situation this year. But it felt good to get some extended minutes, actually get out there, get into the flow of the game and just try to be as effective as possible.”


Celtics offense takes it to the next level

Celtics offense takes it to the next level

BOSTON – Some will chalk up Boston’s 134-106 win over Charlotte to great offensive coaching on Brad Stevens’ part.

But he knows all too well what happened.

“To be honest, we played with force,” Stevens said. “That just was one of those nights where you had great, great shot-making.”

Boston shot a season-best 62.1 percent from the field which fueled them setting season highs in several offensive categories.

Prior to the all-star break, Boston’s offense was still not humming along as well as Stevens or the Celtics would like but there was, in Stevens’ eye, promise for better days scoring the ball sooner rather than later.

“I felt really good about our structure; probably the best I’ve felt about our structure all year, heading into the break, on offense,” Stevens said. “I felt like in that last week or so we had some things that were going our way even though the numbers weren’t showing.”

And those positive signs were on full display Wednesday night as Boston absolutely dominated the Hornets behind the team’s jacuzzi-hot shooting from the field.

Boston’s Kyrie Irving attributes the team’s strong showing offensively to improved pace of play.

“We simplified some things and being able to read and react on the fly and play with a high intense effort for longer periods of time,” Irving said.

Stevens said the team has made some minor tweaks to the offense, but more than anything else, “we’re also just getting a lot more comfortable playing together.”

He added, “And sometimes that takes a little bit of time.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 134-106 win over Charlotte (28-34) which snapped the Hornet’s five-game winning streak while extending their own streak to four wins in a row.


Kyrie Irving: The efficiency that he has played with since coming back from the all-star break has been exactly what the Celtics need from the five-time all-star. He took over from the very outset of the game, scoring 16 of his game-high 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting to go with five assists and just one turnover.

Kemba Walker: The former UConn star had a similarly efficient performance for the Hornets. He tallied a team-high 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go with five assists without a single turnover.


Aron Baynes: His defense was strong as usual, but it was his shooting touch that really provided a lift to the Celtics. Baynes tallied his third double-double this season, scoring 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting along with 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

Dwight Howard: Boston found themselves dealing with the old Dwight Howard on Wednesday instead of an older Dwight Howard who isn’t nearly as impactful. He finished with 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting.

Celtics bench: Of course the lopsided nature of the game helped a couple players off the bench pad their stats, but this group had it going on all game long. They collectively tallied 61 points with the bench producing more double-digit scorers (4) than the starting five (three).


Charlotte’s second half defense: The Hornets were an absolute hot mess defensively in the second half, with Boston getting any and every shot they wanted. Some of the shots Boston made were of the tough, contested variety. But by and large, Boston’s ball movement opened up lanes to the basket gaps on the perimeter that the Hornets were never able to adequately adjust to and slow down. The end result was beatdown


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.