The good news: The Celtics had little trouble beating the Hornets in Charlotte on New Year’s Eve, and are now 3-0 against them this season. The bad news: That was Boston’s last game vs. Charlotte this season. Here are five notable points.
It’s good to know that when one of your top three scorers misses the game due to illness, you have a former All-Star available to pick up the slack. With Jaylen Brown out, Gordon Hayward shot 9-of-14 (3-of-6 on threes) for 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Jayson Tatum scored 24 and Kemba Walker added 22, giving the Celtics their usual 60-plus production from the top three.
Enes scored 15 points in 23 minutes off the bench, but made a bigger impact with 14 rebounds and a career high 6 blocked shots. All of that helped Boston build a 54-42 advantage in points in the paint. And, typically, he was a goofball about it after the game.
In his first two seasons of being a “3 & D” guy, Semi Ojeleye got the defense right but he wasn’t a reliable 3-point shooter – he made just 32% and 31.5%. This year, however, he’s up to 37.8% and shooting with confidence. Twice yesterday, Hayward turned down an open three to swing the ball to Semi in the corner, and that trust was rewarded with a make. Semi finished with 6 points on 2-of-3 from the arc, not big numbers but meeting expectations.
Grant and Theis
Not everyone had a good day. The usually reliable Daniel Theis was a non-factor, and missed a couple of bunnies on his way to a 2-of-9 shooting performance. And Grant Williams, back in his hometown of Charlotte, was 0-of-3 from the field in 9 minutes. Grant hit the side of the backboard on one ugly corner three attempt and was the only Celtic to go scoreless.
No revenge game
Terry Rozier has never lacked confidence, and I fully expected him to make a statement at least once in the three meetings with the Celtics. It never happened. Terry was pretty much invisible as the Hornets got drubbed, losing all three by 17 or more. In 99 minutes against his former teammates, he scored just 27 points, shot a dreadful 26.8%, and made just 2-of-13 threes.