Garnett could return when Celtics visit Hornets

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was pleased with Jeff Green's effort in a recent loss to the surging Miami Heat and is counting on the young forward to keep churning out those type of performances.

Rivers and the Celtics will see if Green has an encore act in the cards Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets in the opener of a three-game road trip. Green scored a career-high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in Monday's 105-103 loss to the Heat.

Green played just over 40 minutes and saw a lot of action with Kevin Garnett sidelined for a second straight game with a balky thigh and flu. Green guarded Heat star LeBron James off the dribble as time winded down and the reigning MVP sank a shot with 10.5 seconds left for the decisive basket.

The Celtics, who shot 54.2 percent, squandered a 17-point lead and committed 21 turnovers for 24 Miami points. Rivers said his team "lost pace" at the start of the second quarter and made too many mistakes to win. He also wasn't pleased with defensive switches and giving up easy layups.

Paul Pierce, who said it's detrimental to allow easy buckets to a team like the Heat, and Courtney Lee scored 17 and 13 points, respectively, for Boston, which went 2-1 on the homestand and is still 7-3 in its last 10 contests. The Celtics are in the playoff mix and sit even with Chicago for the sixth spot in the East -- one-half game behind No. 5 Atlanta.

Despite the loss, Pierce was pleased with Green and hopes it can continue.

"It's fun when you have a guy that's going like he did today. You wonder what he ate that morning," Pierce said. "Whatever he did that day he needs to keep doing it because it worked obviously tonight. It's just fun to watch; to be a part of that. I can't remember the last time I was on the court where one of my teammates had a 40-point game."

The Celtics are 12-20 away from home and are scheduled to make other stops in Dallas and Memphis on the upcoming road swing. Boston has dropped two in a row on the road since three straight as the guest.

In injury news for Garnett, the 2004 NBA MVP is probable against the Hornets. He has missed two straight games and is averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.

New Orleans is mired in a four-game losing streak and has lost seven of its last eight games, including Monday's 93-72 setback to the Golden State Warriors in the opener of a seven-game homestand.

Ryan Anderson had a team-leading 21 points to go with nine rebounds, while rookie Anthony Davis scored 16 points in the loss. Greivis Vasquez delivered 14 points and nine assists in defeat.

"We just didn't hit the shots," said Anderson. "I had some good looks that just didn't fall."

New Orleans guard Eric Gordon did not play and is probable Wednesday with a balky right knee. He is averaging 16.7 ppg this season and missed the start of the campaign coming off knee surgery.

The Hornets are 12-21 in the Big Easy and still have the Grizzlies, Nuggets, Clippers, Heat and Cavaliers slated to visit the Crescent City.

The Hornets beat the Celtics, 90-78, at TD Garden on Jan. 16 and have won four of five in this series. These two teams have split the previous eight matchups at the Hive.