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Hornets fall apart late, lose to Celtics 104-98

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A 29-point performance from Walker wasn’t enough to get the Hornets a win over the Celtics thanks to eight 3-pointers from Avery Bradley.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets’ defense allowed the Boston Celtics to convert on 12 of their 16 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter and lost, 104-98. Avery Bradley hit three of his eight made 3-pointers in the fourth, nullifying a good showing from Kemba Walker, who scored 29 on 16 shots and tallied four steals

The Hornets struggled to score for much of the first half, shooting 30 percent from the field. However, a season high 22 first half free throw attempts and strong play from Jeremy Lamb, Spencer Hawes, and Ramon Sessions kept them in the game. Lamb would leave the game with a strained hamstring in the second quarter.

Good defense from Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams kept the Hornets within striking distance for much of the second half, but a barrage of Celtics 3-pointers killed any chance they had of completing their comeback. The Celtics finished the game shooting 48.4 percent from behind the arc.

The Hornets did manage to get a three-point lead at one point — it might’ve lasted one minute — and were down by as many as 14.

Nicolas Batum turned in a solid but unremarkable game, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, and six assists in 32 minutes. It would have been nice if he were more assertive on offense — it was his floater that gave the Hornets their first lead of the game at the end of the third quarter.

But really, it was the Hornets’ inability to track Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder through screens and a reluctance to close out on shooters that lost the game for them.

This was a tough game to begin with. The Hornets managed to grind out a win against the Miami Heat last night, making Saturday’s game what many refer to as a scheduled loss.

The Hornets, now 2-1, next play on Wednesday against the lowly but very much improving Philadelphia 76ers.