The Charlotte Hornets finally won a close game. Tonight they beat the Boston Celtics at home 117-112. This was a massive win for the Hornets for many reasons. First it stopped a mini losing streak. Second, it was a close win. And third, despite their record, the Celtics are one of the best teams in the East. The hero once again was Kemba Walker, who is playing at a level right now that few have ever matched.
Two nights ago in a home loss to the Sixers, Kemba dropped 60. Tonight he had 43 on 14 of 25 shooting. He took over when in the 4th when the Hornets needed him most, dropping 21 of his 43 points in the quarter. The Celtics knew Kemba was coming and they couldn’t stop it. Kemba had seven threes, five assists, and four rebounds and had a team-best +17 plus/minus for the game.
Tony Parker also deserves a lot of credit. He only had seven points, but he hit two key jumpers down the stretch in the 4th quarter to help put the Celtics away. The other hero off the bench was Willy Hernangomez, who had 14 points including a couple of threes.
The only other player in double figures was Jeremy Lamb, who had 18 points and continued his strong play of light. The three other starters didn't do much offensively, but both Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum played strong defense. Zeller even had a three at the start of the game.
A key to tonight’s victory was the Hornets finally hitting threes. They have been cold from deep recently, but tonight Charlotte hit 15 threes. Charlotte also got to the line 22 times, making 16 of them. The Hornets also won the battle of the boards, out rebounding Boston by three.
A few past problems presented themselves again tonight. Transition defense continued to be an issue as the Celtics tallied 22 fast break points compared to only six for the Hornets. A part of the was the Hornets’ 14 turnovers.
On the Celtics side of things, Kyrie Irving was the leading scorer with 27 points and 11 assists. Charlotte had no answer for him all night. It was a balanced effort though for the Celtics as Boston had five other players in double figure. Among the starters Jaylen Brown and Al Horford each had ten points, while Jayson Tatum had 18 points. Off the bench, Marcus Smart had 14 points, and Daniel Theis had ten.
This was a huge win for the Hornets as they are now back to .500 with an 8-8 record. Charlotte finishes there three-game home stand on Wednesday with a game against the Indiana Pacers.