1/30 Game Preview: Hornets at Celtics
The Boston Celtics couldn't quite chill the white-hot Golden State Warriors on Saturday. They had better luck cooling off the red-hot Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
Now come the lukewarm Charlotte Hornets.
Boston is plenty hot itself, pulling away for a 112-104 victory over the Nets on Monday, its sixth win in seven games with the only loss coming 115-111 to the Warriors, who have now won 11 in a row. Meanwhile on Monday, the Hornets defeated the fast-fading New York Knicks 101-92 to pull within one game of .500.
The Celtics will wrap up a five-game homestand on Wednesday night against Charlotte at TD Garden in Boston.
The Celtics didn't have All-Star starter Kyrie Irving available Monday due to a strained left hip. Coach Brad Stevens said before Monday's game that he didn't think it was a long-term injury and that Irving would be "day-to-day this week."
Terry Rozier stepped in for Irving with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but Boston's story was its blocked shots -- 16 of them, tying a franchise record. Center Al Horford led the way with a season-best six swats.
"It's huge," Marcus Smart said on NBA.com on the impact of shot blocks.
"It deters teams from coming into the paint and they settle for stuff and things that they're not used to. Shooting the ball with guys that they don't want to shoot it. So that just shows the effort that we had on our mind from the start of the game."
Charlotte has won five of its past seven games and would get to .500 for the first time since Dec. 31 if it beats the Celtics.
The Hornets were down 75-73 with 10:44 to go against the Knicks, but Malik Monk scored 12 points in a game-defining 17-1 run. All-Star starter Kemba Walker usually does the heavy lifting for the Hornets, but Monk helped rescue the team on a night when it shot 41.1 percent and only two starters reached double-digit scoring.
Monk, who was the 11th pick in the 2017 draft, finished with 14 points as four reserves posted double-digit point totals.
"We couldn't make a shot tonight, probably until the fourth quarter and Monk was a big part of that," coach James Borrego said in his postgame interview.
"Sometimes in the league you have to win different ways. It wasn't our finest performance. Part of that was shots just weren't dropping. We had good looks, but in the first half we just couldn't make a shot. ...
"Monk was special in the fourth. That's what he can do."
Although things are going well for Boston, the same can't be said lately about forward Gordon Hayward.
Hayward, making his way back from a gruesome leg injury in last season's opener, was seemingly hitting his stride in early January, including a 35-point game against Minnesota to start the month. But he is 11 of 34 from the field in his past five games, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
An unidentified Warriors player told WatchStadium.com that Hayward is "a liability on both ends of the court" right now.
"I think you just got to keep playing him and ultimately he's going to have some ups and downs," Stevens said. "He's had a couple of games where the ball didn't go in as much."