Celtics playing tough against the best – outlast Hornets 98-93

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Celtics down Hornets. (Photo/Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports)
Celtics down Hornets. (Photo/Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports)
Celtics down Hornets. (Photo/Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports) Celtics Celtics playing tough against the best - outlast Hornets 98-93 KellyOlynyk
Celtics down Hornets. (Photo/Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports)

Anyone who is waiting for the Boston Celtics to fall apart might be waiting for years to come. While they might not have a superstar in its midst, they are playing as good of team ball as any team in the league. Any question about that was certainly answered in the last two games when the Celtics played against two of the better teams in the league.

First up was the then undefeated Golden State Warriors that came into Boston with a record of 23-0. All the Celtics did in this one was keep pressure on the Warriors all game long, only to lose in double-overtime 124-119. In the process, the Celtic certainly earned the respect they deserve at this juncture of the season. Note: The Warriors had its winning streak stopped at 24 after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee 108-95 the following night. It was the team’s 8th straight road game and maybe they were just a little too worn out from all the travel.

This past weekend, the Celtics went into Time Warner Cable Arena to play the Charlotte Hornets on the road. The Hornets entered the game with a record of 14-9, having won five of its last six with the only loss coming to the very same Warriors. They were also 10-3 at home entering the game.

The teams played back and forth all game long. By the time they got to the fourth quarter, the Celtics were leading by 4 points. An early quarter surge put the Hornets in the lead. At that point, the Celtics could have folded, but instead, they showed the kind of heart it takes to be a real playoff contender.

Down by three with three and a half minutes remaining in the game, Amir Johnson, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each hit easy layups as the Celtics rattled off six straight points to take the lead 92-89. The Hornets’ Jeremy Lin keep the pressure on by hitting a basket to cut the lead to one. After Thomas missed a shot a got his own rebound, he was fouled and hit two free throws to put the Celtics back up by three. After a basket by guard Kemba Walker to again close the gap to one with 13 seconds remaining, the Celtics closed out the game with four free throws to secure a 98-83 victory.

In the game, the Celtics were led in scoring by Bradley with 23 points followed by Thomas who chipped in 21. Thomas also came through with a season-high 13 assists on a night when the Celts only shot 41.7% from the field. The Hornets were led in scoring by Nicolas Batum with 21 points.

On the season, the Celtics moved to 14-10, which is good enough for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. It’s also good enough for eight in the conference. Over its last 10 games, they are 7-3 and playing exceptionally good ball on both sides of the court. It’s worth noting that its last two losses came in the double OT game against the Warriors and a three point road loss to the San Antonio Spurs, a team that has the second best record in the league and remains undefeated at home over its last 22 home games.

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