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Shorthanded Celtics blow big lead, lose in Charlotte 124-117

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Boston was outscored 30-5 over the final seven minutes of the game

NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics traveled to Charlotte without three key rotation pieces and watched yet another big lead disappear, as they fell apart late in the fourth quarter and lost 124-117 to the Hornets.

Boston led 112-94 with just under seven minutes to play in the game and Charlotte closed on a 30-5 run to win the game. The Celtics took several questionable shots down the stretch, as they put the game into coast-mode far too early.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets comeback with 36 points. Rookie wing Miles Bridges added 20 points, while Marvin Williams and Malik Monk scored 13 points apiece.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 31 points on his birthday, while Jaylen Brown scored 29.

Overall, the Celtics really missed Al Horford’s steady presence on both ends of the floor, as they didn’t have anyone to calm the team down and regroup them as the lead evaporated.

There is no time to mourn this loss, as the Celtics will play on a back-to-back on Sunday night against the San Antonio Spurs in Boston. Horford should return for that game and Gordon Hayward and Aron Baynes could also play as well.

With the loss, the Celtics missed out on a chance to clinch a playoff spot. They also missed out on a chance to pull into a tie with the Indiana Pacers for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston remains one game behind the Pacers.