Celtics win bolstered by return of Marcus Morris and Al Horford


BOSTON -- Al Horford and Marcus Morris returned to the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup on the same night, and the team’s three-game losing streak is a thing of the past.


Not if you ask their teammates and coaches who were more than happy to see the two veterans back in the mix as Boston pulled away for a comfortable 119-103 win over the Hornets.

Horford, who played with a minutes restriction of 20 minutes, had 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting night to go with six rebounds and five assists while logging just 19 minutes.

“I’m just happy I was able to go out there and play with a lot of energy,” said Horford who had missed the previous seven games with patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee. “It’s good to be back. Sitting on the sidelines is tough; not being able to be on the court and help the guys. So, I’m just happy to be back playing.”

And Morris, who returned to action after missing two games with knee soreness, had 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting along with a team-high eight rebounds in just 20 minutes.


“I felt a little better,” Morris said. “I talked to the (medical) staff and it can’t get worse. That made me feel more confident to just go out and play.”

Their numbers were solid considering the limited minutes they played.

But, as Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will attest to, having those two back with the first unit does more for this team than the final stats sheet reveals.

“It’s great to have those guys back,” Stevens said. “It allows our depth to be, you know, especially on the perimeter, we’re really deep.”

Without Horford and Morris available along with Aron Baynes (left fourth metacarpal fracture) also being out, Boston had to go with some cut-and-paste units that included wings Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and guard Marcus Smart playing out of position.

But that was not the case on Sunday.


“When you bring Gordon and Jaylen off the bench at the two (shooting guard), three (small forward) and four (power forward), then you have a lot - lot of flexibility there,” Stevens said. “And so, you know, obviously, that should be a strength of ours.”

Marcus Smart echoed similar sentiments about having both Horford and Morris back in the lineup.

“It means a lot,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “You got Al who has been in the league longer than anybody on the team. You got Mook who has seen everything you could possibly see in this league. And just to have those two, those veteran guys on the court with us in those roles, the camaraderie … it’s something that we needed.”

Much of the talk following the win centered around the two team meetings Boston had on Friday night after the loss to Milwaukee, and the 90-minute follow-up meeting on Saturday.

But the impact of having Horford and Morris return to the lineup was an undeniable factor in Boston getting the win over the Hornets (16-16).

“The more depth, the better,” Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “When we got a lot of guys that can play, we’re a tough team. When we’re playing like that with the communication, we’re a tough team to beat.”

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