Keys to the Game: Celtics 108, Hornets 87

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Key Moment

The Charlotte Hornets seemed to have found a rhythm at the end of the first half of their home matchup against the Celtics Thursday night, as they scored six consecutive points during the final 58 seconds before the break, cutting their 15-point deficit down to nine. However, Boston ended the Hornets' buzz as soon as the second half began, as it opened up the third quarter on an 11-3 run to put the game out of reach.

Former Celtic Terry Rozier started off the third with an 11-foot pull-up jumper – his only made field goal of the game – which closed the gap to 52-45. Though, that was as close as Charlotte would get, as the Celtics tallied 11 of the game's next 12 points with scoring contributions from four different players.

Gordon Hayward responded to Rozier's shot with a short pull-up of his own, before dropping in a driving layup. Jayson Tatum then connected on a 3-pointer, which was followed by back-to-back layups from Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. The only point Charlotte scored during that three-minute span was a free-throw made by Cody Zeller.

That short burst put the Celtics ahead 63-46. It also put the Hornets away for good, as Boston went on to win, 108-87.

Key Player

Gordon Hayward is becoming Mr. First Quarter for the Celtics.

Two nights after dropping 16 first-quarter points on 7-of-7 shooting in Cleveland, Hayward dazzled with a 14-point, 6-of-8 shooting performance during the first frame in Charlotte.

And for the second straight game, Hayward was the all-around spark that carried Boston to a win.

The veteran wing wound up logging 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting, falling just three points shy of Jayson Tatum's game-high scoring total. Hayward also led the Celtics in rebounding with 10 boards, and tied Kemba Walker for the team highs in both assists (six) and plus/minus rating (plus-20). To top it all off, Hayward didn't commit a single turnover during his 29 minutes of action.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 23 points.
  • Gordon Hayward logged 20 points and 10 rebounds for his second 20-10 game of the season.
  • Hayward also dished out six assists, tying him for the team lead with Kemba Walker.
  • Walker tallied 14 pionts during in his homecoming game against his former Hornets team.
  • Terry Rozier notched three points, three rebounds, two assists and four turnovers in his first game against his former Celtics team.
  • The Celtics had a 52-49 edge in rebounding.
  • The Hornets committed 20 turnovers to Boston's 12.
  • Only two Hornets players reached double figures in scoring, including just one starter (Miles Bridges, 18).
  • Javonte Green tallied 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in his NBA debut.
  • P.J. Washington blocked five shots, matching Boston's total as a team.
  • The Celtics (6-1) have now won six games in a row and have the best record in the East.

Quote of the Night

Kemba Walker on his return to Charlotte.