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Hornets come back from 20 point deficit, triumph 104-97 in preseason opener

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The Hornets rallied in the second half to win their first game under new head coach James Borrego.

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Jeremy Lamb scored 15, Cody Zeller scored 13 and reeled in 7 boards, Miles Bridges brought the house down with a couple dunks. All of that was part of a 20 point comeback that culminated in a 104-97 victory for the Hornets in their first game under new head coach James Borrego.

Cody Zeller opened the scoring the Hornets with a nice little fall away 10 foot jumper. Jeremy Lamb followed with a 3 point play and 4 point play over the next handful of possessions.

The first sub off the bench was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, checking in for Marvin Williams at the power forward spot. He quickly made his presence felt, connecting on a dribble drive over Jaylen Brown within a couple minutes of checking into the game. He was joined on the second unit by Tony Parker, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, and Frank Kaminsky. The unit struggled mightily, combining to shoot 2 for 10 over the final minutes of the quarter. A late flurry by the Celtics set the margin at 37-20 at the first intermission.

The Hornets continued to struggle from the field save for a Miles Bridges 3-pointer, his first basket as a Hornet. An easy Aron Baynes tip in prompted James Borrego to burn his first timeout with the Hornets trailing 41-25. Lamb continued to be the only Hornet able to consistently put the ball in the basket, reaching double figures midway through the second period. Devonte Graham checked in and quickly hit his first shot attempt as a Hornet, a twenty foot pull-up off the dribble. Dwayne Band Cody Zeller each hit a couple free throws and a couple buckets to help trim the margin, and another pair of free throws from Walker cut the deficit to 59-45. The Hornets apparently fouled Gordon Hayward on a full court pass, and he hit one of his two free throws to put the halftime score at 60-45.

The Celtics decided to use all five of their team fouls in the first 3 minutes of the seconds half because they wanted to practice defending while in the bonus or something. That seemed to awaken the Hornets, as they hit five straight shots, including threes by Batum, Walker, and one Cody Zeller. The outside shooting barrage cut the deficit to just 3 points, forcing a Brad Stevens timeout. A Bacon and-1 dunk and a Batum three spoon fed by Tony Parker put the Hornets ahead 77-74 with 3:31 left in the 3rd, their first lead since it was 2-0. The two teams traded buckets and lots and lots of fouls to end the quarter. The Hornets went into the final period with an 84-81 lead thanks to a 39-21 third quarter.

The Celtics started the 4th quarter on a 10-2 run, in part thanks to some cold Hornets free throw shooting. A Miles Bridges step back 3 evened the score back up at 91 and a huge Bridges put back dunk put the Hornets up 93-91. A Graham 3 and another monstrous Bridges put back put the Hornets up 102-96. A couple of Bacon free throws iced the game and gave the Hornets their final tally at 104.

The Hornets got off on the right foot, and they’ll look to continue their strong play against this same Celtics team on Sunday.