In a game where the Celtics badly needed a win to set themselves apart in the race for the East's fourth seed, Boston played Monday night's game against Charlotte like a team that was just happy to have postseason basketball ahead of them.
The game got off to a relatively competitive start with the Celtics building themselves a little four-point lead to take with them into the second quarter. But rather than extend their advantage, what followed was probably the worst quarter of basketball the Celtics have played all season.
They were outplayed in practically every facet of the game to the point where they were almost completely unrecognizable. And to add insult to injury, Jeremy Lin absolutely lit them up off the bench, tallying 21 first-half points including a perfect 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.
As a whole, the Hornets outscored Boston 39-13 in the second frame and wound up taking a massive 22-point lead into the halftime break.
Not much changed over the course of the third period. And although the Celtics somewhat threatened to make things interesting down the stretch of the fourth quarter, the Hornets were able to hang on for the victory.
With the loss, Boston can now finish only as high as the fourth seed and as low as the sixth. Wednesday's game against the Miami Heat will determine just exactly where they finish. Follow @TJMacNBA