The Celtics looked like they had snapped out of their recent funk with some exceptional first-half offense. Unfortunately there were 24 minutes left, and Boston fell apart in the second half before rallying for a 121-114 win in Charlotte. Boston scored 71 first-half points on 27-of-43 shooting, including 11 for 21 from behind the arc. They also handed out 21 assists, as every player who played in the first half, minus Jaylen Brown, had at least two dimes.
Isaiah Thomas scored 19 of his 32 points in the opening half to help set the tone for Boston. Kelly Olynyk, starting for the ill Amir Johnson, had a strong game with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Jae Crowder and Al Horford also bounced back from some recent struggles. Horford finished with 16 points and seven assists. Crowder hit 6 of 9 shots from the floor to score 15 points.
Boston let Charlotte back in the game in the second half and actually trailed by seven at one point. Nicolas Batum led the Hornets with 31 points, as he used his size to shoot over Avery Bradley on a regular basis. Kemba Walker added 23 points and Jeremy Lamb had a strong game off the bench, scoring 17. Charlotte oddly went away from Batum down the stretch, however, and that worked in Boston’s favor.
After the offense went missing for most of the second half. Thomas and Avery Bradley came up with some big shots late in the game. Bradley finished with 15 points, after scoring just four in the first half.
The Celtics also took care of the ball after some recent sloppy games, finishing with just nine turnovers. Combined with the strong shooting, that made for a big offensive night.
The win moved Boston back to within 0.5 games of Cleveland for the first overall spot in the Eastern Conference. The loss eliminated Charlotte from the playoff race. The Celtics next play on Monday at home versus the Brooklyn Nets.