Brown Produces Buzzing Performance in Shorthanded Loss to Hornets

CHARLOTTE – The Boston Celtics went into Saturday night’s matchup in Charlotte knowing that without three rotation players, they’d have to dig extra deep. And for 40 minutes, they did. Multiple players stepped up to fill the voids of Aron Baynes (sprained left ankle), Gordon Hayward (in the NBA’s concussion protocol) and Al Horford (left knee soreness) to help push the C’s out to an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, the final eight minutes were a different story, as Kemba Walker and the Hornets stormed back on a 30-5 run to deliver a 124-117 loss. While the nature of the defeat stung badly, there were still positives that the Celtics could take away from Charlotte, as well as some optimism that they can carry into Sunday night’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Celtics played inspiring basketball prior to Charlotte’s furious rally, as they were forced to play with a depleted frontcourt that kept on shrinking as the game went on. Boston entered the contest with Daniel Theis, Robert Williams and Guerschon Yabusele as its only available bigs. Soon it was down to just two bigs, as Williams had to leave the game midway through the second quarter after taking a nasty fall, landing hard his tailbone.

One of the consistent bright spots that kept the C’s moving in the right direction was Jaylen Brown, who dropped 29 points on a 10-of-13 shooting clip from the field and a 5-of-6 mark from 3-point range. He accompanied the third-highest scoring effort of his career with four rebounds and four assists, while also playing outstanding defense.

With the help of Brown’s well-rounded play, along with a 31-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance from Kyrie Irving, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with 98 points under their belt on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 55.2 percent shooting from downtown.

“I thought Jaylen played really hard and really well,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “I thought he was really locked in on the defensive end of the court for the most part.”

Things slipped up on the defensive end later in the game, but everyone accounted for their miscues and came out with the mindset to keep pushing forward.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Brown. “I make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. But if we play hard, I think we’ll cover for each other. So, I just try to come out and play hard and give us energy and do my job to the best of my ability.”

Brown was happy with the way his teammates covered for each other for most of the game, noting how impressed he was with the guys who slid seamlessly into larger roles.

“When people go out, we have some guys that step up and play really well,” said Brown. “I think Guerschon gave us some really good minutes, Semi gave us some really good minutes, so we had some guys step up; we just failed to finish the game. Teams go on runs, we’ve gotta be able to stop them. We didn’t tonight, but tomorrow’s a new day, so we’ll come out and try to get a win tomorrow.”

Having that “new day” mindset is critical in moving forward from a tough loss, and in this case, the Celtics are happy to have the opportunity to play again in less than 24 hours.

“We can sulk and complain and point fingers and throw the towel in,” Brown said. “Or we can come out tomorrow and play hard and get a win on our home floor.”

“Can’t dwell on it,” added Marcus Morris, who tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. “We’ve gotta play tomorrow night against a very good team, an experienced team, so we’ve gotta move on.”

Another positive in moving on to Sunday is that the Celtics may get a few bodies back in their frontcour. Baynes, Hayward and Horford could all possibly return to action against the Spurs, and their presences would be a great boost for the C’s, as they try to numb the sting of Saturday night’s tough loss with a bounce-back win in Boston.

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