Charlotte Drops Preseason Home Opener to Celtics

Monk Marvels Again with Game-High 21 Points

By Sam Perley,

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By Sam Perley

Down six rotational players, the Charlotte Hornets fell behind early and never managed to fully recover on their way to a 108-100 loss to the visiting Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

The Hornets trailed by just four at the end of the opening frame, but were outscored, 33-18, in the second quarter on their way to a 19-point halftime deficit. Charlotte soon went down by a game-high 22 points before regrouping to eventually take a one-point lead with 3:50 remaining in the game.

Boston quickly responded though, closing out the night with a 12-3 run to finish off its preseason schedule with a perfect 4-0 record.

Malik Monk set the tone again for Charlotte with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench. The rookie from Kentucky has now scored 19-or-more points in each of his last three preseason games, something no first-year Hornets player has accomplished in the regular season since Kemba Walker (Feb. 11-15, 2012).

“He can score, he can score, he can score. He’s a good learner, he’s gotten in better shape here,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford. “He’s willing, I think that his defense will come because he’s willing, he’s a good guy. I think that being a good player is very important to him.”

Fellow rookie Dwayne Bacon, Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard all scored 12 points apiece while Cody Zeller came up just short of a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Leading the way for Boston was newcomer Kyrie Irving, who recorded his first double-double of the preseason with 16 points and a game-high 10 assists. Al Horford added 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and four assists as well.

Boston managed to do most of its damage from long range, connecting on a blistering 16-of-32 three-point attempts (50.0 percent). The Hornets knocked down just 13-of-37 shots from behind the arc (35.1 percent), although got four each from Monk and Bacon.

Only four Charlotte rookies have ever made four-or-more three-point field goals in a regular season game since the start of the 2007-08 NBA campaign (Augustin, Walker, Taylor and Hairston).

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal), Jeremy Lamb (groin), Michael Carter-Williams (knees), Treveon Graham (hamstring), Julyan Stone (hamstring) and Nicolas Batum (elbow) were all unavailable for Charlotte.

The Hornets will finish off their preseason schedule beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13 against the visiting Dallas Mavericks.