8.04.2009

Celtics Crush Hornets

Celtics Improve to 21-4
1990-91 Boston Celtics

Remembering the 29-5 Start


The first 30-45 minutes before a Celtics game at Charlotte is very important to Hornets fans. They travel up Tobacco Road from as far as Florida for this pregame ritual. They point their fingers, press their Kodaks, holler out their favorite player's name, beg for autographs and have one dandy time. Tourism at its finest.

It's good that Hornets fans enjoy those minutes, because last night Boston proved once again that there's no reason whatsoever to get excited about the 48 that follow.

The Celtics last night continued their dominance over the expansion team they have yet to lose to in 10 games. Reggie Lewis led five players in double figures with 24 points as the Celtics blew a relatively close game away in the third period and coasted to a 115-96 victory. The win is the sixth straight for the Celtics, who improved the second-best record in the NBA to 21-4. Charlotte, now 8-15, not only lost its eighth straight but also its fan support, long before the final buzzer.

Kevin McHale added 20 points and 15 boards off the bench and Larry Bird and Kevin Gamble scored 16 points each, as the starters rested through much of the fourth quarter. Charlotte, which had a few eye-catching moments early, missed far too many shots to keep it interesting for four periods.

Mind you, this is the same team that shot 53 percent from the floor against Boston the last time the two played. Charlotte lost that one, 135-126, at the Garden. This time they had the home-court advantage, and the Celtics were coming off a big win over Philly the night before.

Didn't matter. Charlotte couldn't match its output at the Garden, shooting a measly 29 percent in the first half. The Hornets finished at 43 percent, but many of their attempts fell in the fourth period, when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Meanwhile, the Celtics shot 50 percent in both halves and outrebounded the Hornets, 56-38.

"We had better defense, and Charlotte didn't shoot as well as they did at the Garden," said Robert Parish, who scored 12 points and held J.R. Reid to just 2. "In that game, they all shot well from the floor. Last night I was all over Reid, plus I had a lot of help from my teammates. They didn't have the luxury they had at Boston."

"We didn't play as well as we could have in the first half," said coach Chris Ford, "but we blew the game open in the third. Right now, we have great confidence in our game, both offensively and defensively."

Leading, 56-46, at the half and sensing the Hornets would try to rally as soon as the third quarter began, the Celtics outscored Charlotte, 10-3, over the first two minutes of the period for a 66-49 lead with 9:58 left.

"We definitely knew they were thinking of making a run," said Parish. "We know they went in at halftime and had a pep talk. They came out with fire in their eyes."

"I definitely thought they'd come out and be more aggressive," said Lewis. "We made sure that we didn't get ourselves in a hole to have to fight out of."

Lewis' 3-point play began a 10-4 surge that upped the score to 76-53 with 6:28 left. The Hornets tried to counter with shots inside but simply could not convert, much to the chagrin of a crowd that grew more and more disinterested as the game wore on. Midway through the fourth, the Charlotte Coliseum had become a tourist distraction; the fans bundled up and headed elsewhere.

"We didn't do anything special," said Bird, asked how the Celtics kept Charlotte from equaling its 53-percent output. "They just missed their shots. They had opportunities, but they just didn't go down.

"Everybody was involved in our offense tonight. Nobody shined but everybody played well. That is how we usually do it." Right now, they're doing it better than 25 teams in the NBA.

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