Gordon Hayward was out, Al Horford was out, Kyrie Irving played for roughly 120 seconds all night. Without their stars, the Celtics trailed by 15 after one, as much as 18 in the second-quarter, and were down by 12 entering the final frame.
It didn’t matter, as the Celtics role players and bench stole their eleventh straight victory, 90-87, from right under Charlotte’s nose. The guys in green and white used an improbable defensive stand to get back into the game.
Boston outscored the Hornets 26-11 in the fourth quarter behind huge buckets from Jayson Tatum, Shane Larkin, and Marcus Morris. Charlotte was only able to muster three points throughout the first nine minutes of the fourth. An and-1 layup by Kemba Walker with under a minute remaining was the only reason the Hornets were able to hit double digits in the period.
The Celtics extend their NBA-best record to 11-2 while Charlotte drops to 5-7.
- This was without a doubt the most impressive victory for Brad Stevens team this season. The Celtics struggled without the entirety of their big-3. Just two minutes into the game, we witnessed some Aussie on Aussie crime. Aron Baynes attempted to contest a shot and inadvertently tossed an elbow directly into Kyrie Irving’s face. Irving crumpled to the floor with blood spilling from the injury and was eventually escorted off by Boston’s medical staff. He missed the rest of the game and is being evaluated for a possible concussion.
- The Celtics offense was ugly without their best playmakers. Boston shot just 35.7% from the field and 29% from behind the three-point line. Marcus Smart finished a dreadful 3-16 from the field and 0-7 from deep. Jaylen Brown’s struggles from the field didn’t get better in the Garden tonight. He made just three of his 14 field goal attempts. Terry Rozier was only 3-12 from the floor.
- Jayson Tatum is well on his path to becoming a star in this league. He absolutely stepped up right when the Celtics needed it against Charlotte. The rookie shot 4-6 from the field in the final quarter and was crucial in helping Boston pull away. He drilled a hesitation jump shot over Cody Zeller to put the Celtics up five. Then, Tatum drove through the lane and finished a tough layup using his length with 1:30 to play. He has all of the tools to become the next legendary player in Boston.
— NBA (@NBA) November 11, 2017
- Shane Larkin had his best game as a Celtic, possibly his best in the league, in the win over Charlotte. He had 16 points on 5-8 shooting, knocking down two triples. Larkin nailed two mid-range jump shots in the fourth quarter that helped Boston trim the deficit. He’s been a nice spark plug scorer when Stevens has called upon him so far this season.
- Marcus Morris must be a leprechaun because luck was on his side tonight. He made a HORRIFIC decision to shoot a triple with 52 seconds on the game clock and 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Boston was leading by four at the time and Kemba Walker quickly cut it to one with a driving layup. On the next possession, the Celtics aimlessly dribbled time off the clock before finally engaging in some wild offense late. Morris got the ball with roughly five seconds left on the shot clock before hoisting up a long jumper. It was money, putting Boston back up by three. Morris then played excellent defense on Walker, all but securing the victory.
- Boston sneakily won the rebounding effort against Charlotte, edging them out 49-47.
- How about the second half defensive adjustments from Brad Stevens? The Celtics league-leading defense limited the Hornets to only 30 points in the final 30 minutes. Boston scored 49 points of their own over the two quarters.
- Kemba Walker had the best night for the Hornets offensively but he was terribly inefficient. The former UConn star had 20 points and 11 assists. However, he made just five of his 19 attempts on the night. Walker finally found some life in the fourth quarter, making a few timely baskets, but it wasn’t enough for the Hornets.
- Dwight Howard is still a mentally weak player. Boston was able to frustrate the veteran, who was averaging 15.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per contest. The Celtics held him to 6 points, 11 rebounds, and a whopping 7 turnovers. Howard went 2-9 from the stripe and was mostly a non-factor after a confrontation with Marcus Smart. He just never has responded favorably to adversity.
- Frank Kaminsky had a solid opening half but fell off the face off the Earth after the break. He finished with 14 points and 2 rebounds. Kaminsky hit three triples in the first-half but wasn’t able to get much going after Boston clamped down defensively in the final two quarters.
- Dwayne Bacon was a bright spot off of Charlotte’s bench. The rookie out of Florida State looked comfortable picking his spots all night. Bacon hit five of his seven attempts, and many weren’t easy looks. He absolutely drilled a couple contested jumpers and looks like he could develop into a capable scorer with more polish. The NBA has a new contender for the best last name in basketball, sorry Guerschon.
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