Boston 89 (43-11) | New Orleans 77 (30-20)
What a collapse.
The Hornets fought a close battle for 36 minutes with the reigning champs tonight. At the end of three, the Hornets found themselves tied 64-64 and keeping pace with the Celtics in the paint and on the boards. But iit took only four and a half minutes and a 15-3 run by the C's at the beginning of the fourth to put the game out of reach and spoil CP's return to the hardwood.
That fourth quarter was just terrible. We were giving open looks to anyone who came knocking. We got sloppy on D, gave up position on easy rebounds, and went ice cold from the field (we only notched 13 points in the final 12 minutes).
Peja and DX (our two primary scorers) went a combined 6 for 24 from the field, with Peja adding a 1 for 6 performance from deep. Sadly, a lot of those shots were pretty open, especially a handful of open looks to Peja in the fourth (that could have closed the gap).
Other than our shots drawing iron (or air), here are some other totals you may be interested in (all numbers reflect stats before Byron pulled our starters):
- Rebounds: 38–33 (adv. Boston)
- Points in the Paint: 38–30 (adv. Boston)
- Second chance points: 8–0 (adv. Boston)
Boston didn't have a great night tonight (except for Pierce, who was mostly unstoppable), so it's a bit of a shame that we couldn't capitalize. Let's just hope we can get it together over the break. We've got a long uphill battle before we can regain solid ground in the playoff race.
Couple of observations before I leave you:
- CP was breaking ankles all nigh. He had a nice crossover that sent Eddie House flying into a DX screen, but his best move came late in the thrid, when a ridiculous fake made Gabe Pruitt trip over his own feet and slide into the key as Paul sunk a shot from the top of the key. Pretty sweet.
- CP picked up 2 quick fouls in the first four minutes of the first, so naturally Byron sat him. I'm not crazy about that strategy, but I let it go. That is until Byron let him sit for almost a full 12 minutes. The Celtics didn't gain too much ground in that time (the bench actually held there own for a while), but with the game being so close for so long, it's a crime to only have played CP 31 minutes.
- Ok, that previous statement ignores the fact that CP just came back from an injury. Maybe benching him wasn't a terrible idea after all. My real beef with Byron is when he let Chris sit through the 15-3 without at least trying to stop the bleeding with a timeout. When he finally got around to putting Chris back in, the game was out of reach.
- Paul Pierce has this habit of wincing every time he tries to draw contact (and a foul). I might actually be inclined to believe he was in pain if he was bouncing around off the likes of LeBron or Dwyane Wade, but tonight he was being "guarded" by none other than Peja Stojakovic. I wasn't buying the act. Too bad the refs didn't share my sentiments.
- Antonio Daniels nailed an alley-oop to Sean Marks. Since we have to give such things names around here, I'm going to toss this one out: the "Red Eye." Takers?
Photos courtesy of espn.com
Composed to: Steve Earle's Copperhead Road
The opponent's take: Celtic's Blog