BOSTON -- Terry Rozier made his way into the TD Garden on Sunday afternoon and was soon greeted by some familiar faces.
After chatting a couple of folks in media relations, Rozier took a few more paces forward and soon made a sharp left turn into the visitor’s locker room which served as the first noticeable difference between the four years he spent as a Celtic and the new reality of his life with his new team, the Charlotte Hornets.
“This is home for me,” Rozier said.
And while the fans certainly showed Rozier some love when he was introduced with the rest of the Charlotte starters, the Celtics still managed to come away with a 107-106 preseason win.
Jayson Tatum led all players with 20 points and Celtics fan favorite Tacko Fall came off the Celtics bench and scored five points to go with three rebounds and two blocked shots in eight minutes of action.
Boston also got a nice lift from rookie Carsen Edwards who picked up where he left off in summer league with his instant-offense game. He had 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting which included 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
In limited minutes, Rozier reminded all in attendance how talented a player he can be, tallying a near double-double of nine points and nine assists along with four rebounds in just 22 minutes of court time.
“He’s a great competitor,” said Hornets head coach James Borrego of Rozier. “He’s bought in from Day One. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. I look forward to him growing this season.”
Rozier still has that feisty, competitive streak but the final score meant little to him or the Celtics for that matter.
For Rozier, it was more about getting this season started while at the same time, seeing some familiar faces and ex-teammates that he remains close to still.
Before the game, Rozier talked about how excited he was to face his ex-teammates and the franchise that selected him in the first round with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
“I’m ready to go out here, have some fun, talk a little trash to my old teammates and just get it over with,” Rozier said. “I’m glad to be back in this building.”
While things certainly didn’t end the way Rozier or the Celtics would have liked, the 25-year-old returns with nothing but good thoughts and memories of his time in Boston.
For Rozier, playing for the Hornets allows him to live out a life-long dream of being not just an NBA player, but an NBA starter who is essentially the face of the franchise.
“It’s been great. I’ve been learning, continuing to learn, continue to grow,” Rozier said. “I’m in a different role, a bigger role but it’s something I’ve always wanted and I’m ready for. I’m just going to keep getting better as the time goes.”
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