Stars, studs and duds: Resilient C's put together strong fourth quarter to beat Hornets

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Following Boston’s Christmas Day loss to Washington, Al Horford spoke about how there have been too many “my bad” moments for his teammates where they acknowledge a mistake and as a team, that mistake is repeated. 

There would be none of that on Wednesday, and Horford’s play certainly was central as the Celtics put the game away with a strong finish for the 102-91 win over Charlotte. 

Horford had 20 points and 11 rebounds for his first 20-point, 10-rebound game as a member of the Boston Celtics.

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“He was great, making all those threes early,” Stevens said. “It changes your game plan and makes you adjust. To be able to play through him in the high-post and the low-post there at the start of the fourth quarter, was huge.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 102-91 win over Charlotte. 

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving: The game began with Irving getting his teammates great looks, and ended with him doing what he does best – get buckets. Irving finished with a near double-double,  scoring a team-high 21 points in addition to dishing out eight assists. 

Kemba Walker: Despite the Hornet’s record, Walker continues to play well enough to where he remains on the short list of elite guards in the Eastern Conference. Him and Irving came into the game as the top two scoring guards in the Eastern Conference. And to their credit, both had strong games scoring the ball with Walker leading all scorers with 24 points. 

Al Horford: The Celtics needed to step their collective games up, and Al Horford was once again front-and center in making that happen, doing a little bit of everything. His defense on Dwight Howard was pivotal to Boston getting off to a fast start. And as the game wore on, Horford became a catalyst for the offense whether it be with his passing or forcing the defense to adjust to his play and thus create a good look offensively for a teammate. That said, Horford had a really strong game, finishing with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds for his first 20-point, 10-rebound game as a Celtic.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum: A slew of eye-popping, scintillating plays by Tatum helped fuel Boston to yet another hard-earned win by the Celtics.  The Hornets had major problems defending him off the dribble, or contesting his 3-point shot. For the game, he had 18 points and five rebounds.

Terry Rozier: He has been among the NBA’s leaders in minutes played off the bench, and the Celtics got major value in his presence tonight. Rozier’s defense and scoring gave Boston a much-needed lift off the bench with him finishing with 15 points. 

Dwight Howard: He got off to a slow start for Charlotte, but still managed to finish with a strong game with 12 points and 17 rebounds. 

Shane Larkin: The Celtics certainly loved him scoring 11 points off the bench, but his greatest contribution tonight was his defense on Kemba Walker. Yes, Walker definitely got his points but Larkin’s defense made him work harder – a lot harder – than he would have liked and that would prove to be one of the keys to Boston getting the victory with Walker getting 24 points on 9-for-22 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Third quarter play: Boston was by far at their worst in the third quarter, being outscored 31-16 by the Hornets in the quarter that helped erase a 20-point Celtics lead down to just one-point (76-75) going into the fourth.

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