Hornets.com postgame: Celtics 89, Hornets 85

Saturday, March 19, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Celtics (49-19), Hornets (40-31)

It was over when… Ray Allen, one of the best shooters in NBA history, calmly sank two free throws to give Boston a four-point lead with 2.8 seconds remaining. The Celtics rallied all the way back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit on the strength of one of the league’s best defenses. New Orleans was held to just 34 points after intermission.

Hornets MVP: Facing one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA, David West had one of his best games of the 2010-11 season, finishing with 32 points and eight rebounds. The two-time All-Star spent a bit more time in the post than usual Saturday, scoring frequently on hook shots and back-to-the-basket moves. It probably could be co-MVPs after Marco Belinelli powered New Orleans to a fast start with 14 first-quarter points, equaling Boston’s total as a team in that period. Belinelli finished with a season-best 23 points, including five three-pointers.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: With the Hornets not playing another game until Thursday at Utah – an unusually long stretch, especially this late in the NBA regular season – Monty Williams relied more heavily on the starting five. Every starter logged at least 37 minutes, with the entire frontcourt of Trevor Ariza, David West and Emeka Okafor on the floor for 42 or more. As a result, no bench player made much of a dent in the stat sheet.

Carl Landry scored four points in 10 minutes, but unfortunately had a cut under his left eye re-opened. He went to the locker room and got six stitches; he later returned to the sideline but did not re-enter the game. After he’d stopped wearing a protective black patch under the eye recently, Landry will again wear it in upcoming games to hopefully prevent further injury. The cut is close to his cheekbone, making it vulnerable to stray elbows or hands. After the previous injury, Landry had four stitches, but he said the wound was larger this time.

The buzz on… Boston’s 15-point comeback. Time and time again in the second half, a New Orleans possession dragged into the final five seconds of the shot clock, before a Hornets player was forced to take a high-degree-of-difficulty, off-balance attempt, often with a Celtics defender or two in their face. David West gave credit to Boston’s vaunted defense for forcing New Orleans into several bad possessions. Chris Paul also noted that the Hornets’ offense became “stagnant.”

“We had too many possessions where we weren’t helping each other enough,” West said of the one-on-one nature of NOLA’s second-half O. “We started letting (Boston) dictate the pace of the game and we got stagnant on the offensive end. I thought for about 30 minutes tonight we played well enough to win, but they just took the game over in the third quarter and made some key plays down the stretch in the fourth. I thought we played well enough in spots, but not well enough to beat a team like that.”

Paul finished the game 0-for-9, but handed out 15 assists, with 10 of those helpers coming in the first half. Asked after the game how he can compensate for a poor shooting night, Paul said, “keep playing. Luckily I don’t have a stat guy on my shoulder during the game telling me what I’m shooting. I’m just going to keep shooting. I don’t know how to counter it. It’s not the first time (that I’ve missed shots).”

Blog question of the night: The Hornets don't play again until Thursday, when they visit what's been an extremely difficult venue for them, Salt Lake City's EnergySolutions Arena. New Orleans then visits the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers during a three-game "March Madness" trip that's necessitated by the NCAA Tournament being held in the Big Easy. What would you consider to be a successful road trip?