The Boston Celtics picked up their second win in as many visits to Charlotte this month to move up in the standings ahead of a Hornets team competing with them to break back into the playoff picture.
When these teams met less than two weeks ago, one of the keys to victory was protecting the ball. The Celtics committed only five turnovers in that game, yet turned it over 11 times in the first half alone tonight. Combine that with an inability to make a field goal over the final 7 minutes, 21 seconds of the half and it's a wonder that Boston made it to the mid-point of the game with a 7 point lead.
Winning the third quarter became essential to recovering from a sloppy first two frames and that's just what the Celtics did by pouring in 27 third quarter points to extend their lead to double-digits.
Jae Crowder continued his recent hot streak, leading the way with 19 points on 8-of-16 from the field, while adding a dozen rebounds. Crowder has been among the league leaders in steals this season with 1.8 per game, but failed to tally a steal for the third straight game, his longest drought of the season.
Kelly Olynyk got another start in place of the injured Amir Johnson and proved productive once again with 20 points and 9 boards. He gets credit for the highlight of the night for his one-handed put-back dunk in the third quarter that left the Charlotte crowd in awe. Who knew KO had that in him?
Kelly Olynyk with the follow up slam! pic.twitter.com/wrfaLjxySu— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 24, 2015
Every Frank Kaminsky sighting is going to bring back bitter memories of the failed Draft Day trade that saw Michael Jordan's Hornets turn down a treasure trove of assets that Boston offered in exchange for their 1st-round pick, which they planned to use to select Justice Winslow. Charlotte turned them down in order to take Kaminisky, who has had a quiet rookie season thus far, before exploding tonight with career-highs of 23 points and 7 rebounds.
The win marks Boston's second in a row after they snapped a three-game losing streak against Minnesota on Monday, moving the Celtics back up to three games over .500 on the season.