Hornets Overcome 20-Point Deficit to Defeat Celtics
Lamb Scores Game-High 15 Points in Charlotte’s Preseason-Opening Victory
By Sam Perley
The Charlotte Hornets bounced back from a bumpy first-quarter performance in route to an exciting 104-97 comeback preseason win over the visiting Boston Celtics on Friday, Sept. 28 in Chapel Hill, NC.
After falling behind, 37-20, at the end of the opening frame, the Hornets watched Boston’s lead balloon to 20 points in the first half. Following some halftime adjustments, Charlotte used a huge third-quarter run to enter the fourth trailing, 84-81.
Boston got back up by four with six minutes left in the game, but the Hornets closed out the exhibition contest on a 17-6 run, which was highlighted by a pair of electrifying dunks courtesy of Charlotte rookie Miles Bridges.
“I’m just proud of the guys, proud of how they stuck in the game,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “We were down early, fought our way back. We talked a lot about being resilient. The NBA is a long 48-minute game. You just have to stay with it. I think that’s the type of character guys we showed tonight.”
Jeremy Lamb recorded a game-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and three assists. Cody Zeller (13 points), Kemba Walker (12 points), Dwayne Bacon (11 points) were also in double figures as were Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bridges (all with 10 points).
Kidd-Gilchrist also added a game-high 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double, a threshold he reached just twice last regular season. Willy Hernangómez just missed joining him, racking up nine points and eight rebounds.
“I liked Jeremy’s game tonight,” said Borrego. “He was poised, he handled it well. Defensively, I liked him. Obviously, we’ll watch the film, but so far I like what I see from him.”
Malik Monk did not play for Charlotte after suffering a pelvic contusion earlier in the week during practice.
After allowing 37 points in the opening 12 minutes, the Hornets buckled down defensively and surrendered just 60 to Boston the rest of the way. The biggest adjustments came at the perimeter, as they held the Celtics to just 4-of-34 shooting from behind the arc during this stretch (5-of-13 in the first).
Borrego added, “[Boston] was making every shot. We couldn’t make a shot, but we won the next three quarters. The second quarter really established our identity and gave us a chance in the third quarter. We came out, found some rhythm and found some sets we liked.”
Charlotte went 11-of-36 from three-point range (30.6 percent), with Lamb accounting for three of the makes. The Hornets had just seven games last season with at least 36 three-point attempts, during which they went 6-1.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with a team-high 14 points, while Marcus Morris (12 points) and Terry Rozier (11 points) both reached double digits off the bench. Gordon Hayward – playing in his first game since suffering a broken ankle in last year’s season opener – chipped in 10 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
These teams will meet again in two days at 6 p.m. for a Sunday evening tipoff at Boston’s TD Garden.