Hornets blow 18-point lead, fall to Celtics, 90-87

Rick Bonnell, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Basketball

BOSTON -- Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker missed a 19-foot jump shot with about five seconds left, and Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier made two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to secure a 90-87 victory at TD Garden.

The Hornets failed to successfully in-bound the ball on their last, desperate possession. Walker (20 points) threw up a one-handed prayer from three-quarters court as time expired.

The Hornets had led by as many as 18 points.

This was the Celtics' 11th consecutive victory, raising their record to 11-2. The Hornets lost their fourth straight, all on the same road trip, falling to 5-7. The Hornets don't play again until a Wednesday home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Marcus Smart hit a pull-up jump shot over Walker with 23 seconds left to give the Celtics a three-point lead. Walker responded with a drive to the rim with 17 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. The Hornets trapped Rozier along the sideline and he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds, turning over possession with 14.8 seconds left.

The Celtics took their first lead of the second half on a Jaylen Brown layup with about 51/2 minutes left. That gave Boston an 80-79 edge.

Hornets center Dwight Howard committed his fifth foul with about 41/2 minutes left, shortly after a turnover.

The Celtics entered the game without Gordon Hayward, out for the season with a broken ankle, and center Al Horford, who is in concussion protocol. Boston point guard Kyrie Irving left the game after two minutes, and did not return. He was being evaluated for a concussion as well.

Howard drew a technical foul in the first half for slapping at Smart during a stoppage of play. Howard stepped out of bounds along the baseline in the third quarter and was charged with a delay-of-game warning for not giving the referee the ball promptly after that turnover.


Three who mattered

Jayson Tatum: He just doesn't play like a rookie; poised, mature and offensively creative with the ball. He scored 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

Walker: A bad shooting night (5 for 19), but he found teammates throughout this one for buckets, finishing with 11 assists.

Dwayne Bacon: He kept swishing that mid-range jump shot, finishing with 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting for the Hornets. He'll be hard to sit when Nic Batum is back.

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