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Recap: Hornets can’t keep pace with Celtics despite strong second half, 127-116

The Hornets won the second half.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier scored 27 points while LaMelo Ball came one rebound short of a triple double, but the Charlotte Hornets couldn’t overcome Jayson Tatum and hot 3-point shooting as they lost to the Boston Celtics, 127-116.

Mark Williams got the start in place of the departed Mason Plumlee. He acquitted himself nicely with a couple of buckets and an emphatic block on Robert Williams. LaMelo Ball led the Hornets with seven first quarter points and a little bit of razzle dazzle for the people on ESPN. However, the Hornets showed early signs of the gulf in quality as the Celtics started to pull away late in the frame. The Hornets trailed by eight at quarter’s end.

The floodgates opened in the second quarter. Derrick White made three straight 3-pointers, then a Payton Pritchard steal and layup was sandwiched by threes from Sam Hauser and Mike Muscala. While the Celtics were raining threes, the Hornets were grinding out 2-point baskets and having an inordinate number of layups and putbacks hang on the rim and fall out. The Celtics finished the first half with 16 made threes with seven coming from Derrick White alone. Jayson Tatum drilled a heavily contested three while falling on his backside to drive home the point in the half’s final second. The Hornets trailed by 18 at the break.

The Hornets continued to be outmatched in the third quarter as the Celtics ran away with the contest. It was threes and dunks galore for the Celtics while the Hornets airballed jumpers and threw up tough floaters. But the Hornets made a run, as all NBA teams do, or so I’m told. They held the Celtics without a point from the 5:21 mark all the way down to the eight second mark. They scored 15 straight points in that span to cut the deficit to 16.

A brief exchange of baskets was followed by another onslaught of Celtics 3-pointers from role players that seemingly put the game out of reach. But the Hornets were resilient in this one. The Celtics went a little cold from deep, which opened the door for a 10-3 run to pull the Hornets within 10. Terry Rozier scored eight of the 10 points for the Hornets in that run. At one point during the run, Mark Williams got switched onto Tatum on the perimeter. He moved his feet extremely well despite a dribbling exhibition from Tatum, who was forced to give the ball up for a layup attempt that was blocked by PJ Washington.

That 10 point cushion proved to be high water mark for the Hornets. They would narrow the deficit to that point a couple of times, but they never got the game within single digits. They played hard down the stretch, but it was too little too late.

Mark Williams had 11 points and 12 rebounds in his first career start. Bryce McGowens didn’t make the play by play recap, but he put in some impressive minutes off the bench and finished with nine points. PJ Washington had a solid game and scored 17 points off the bench.

The Hornets struggled all night to keep track of Celtics on the perimeter. Too frequently the Celtics would create space off a single drive, and the ensuing kickout would be an easy look. It was far too easy by NBA standards. That along with generally hot shooting from the Celtics resulted in 25 made 3-pointers for the home team while the Hornets mustered just eight.

No rest for the weary. The Hornets are back in action on Saturday night against the best team in the west—the Denver Nuggets.