Hornets roll past Celtics
Boston, MA – Al-Farouq Aminu amassed 18 points and nine rebounds as the resurgent New Orleans Hornets stopped Boston's season-high win streak with a 90-78 triumph over the Celtics at TD Garden.
Despite the absence of leading scorer Eric Gordon, held out with the team playing on back-to-back nights after recently returning from knee surgery, the Hornets notched their sixth win in seven games with balanced scoring and by dominating the glass.
"We had so many guys that played tonight, and they made big time contributions," said New Orleans coach Monty Williams. "Things that don't show up on the stat sheet but things we recognize as a coaching staff."
Robin Lopez chipped in 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, Greivis Vasquez put forth a 15-point, 11-rebound effort and Anthony Davis accumulated 10 points and 10 boards to help New Orleans finish with a 48-33 rebounding advantage.
Boston came in having won six in a row -- its longest unbeaten run since a 14- game stretch in 2010-11 -- but made just 4-of-18 attempts from 3-point range and shot a miserable 37.5 percent (6-of-16) from the foul line.
"We didn't play well," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "We let our guard down, starting in practice yesterday. I didn't do anything about it. Kicking myself about it."
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 15 points, with Paul Pierce netting 12 along with 10 rebounds.
The game also marked the first head-to-head meeting between Rivers and his son, Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers. The younger Rivers scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench
"It was strange. A strange dynamic," said Doc Rivers. "I didn't enjoy it. You see your son run by you on the floor. That's just different."
The Hornets trailed by as many as 11 points early on, with the Celtics ripping off an 11-2 tear to build a 21-10 lead at the 3-minute mark of the opening quarter. Boston owned a seven-point advantage early in the second, before New Orleans changed the momentum with a 16-3 burst over a four-plus minute stretch.
Ryan Anderson fed Jason Smith for a slam that put the Hornets up 33-32 with 6:43 left in the first half, and an Aminu dunk followed by a Vasquez 3-pointer extended the margin to six shortly afterward.
Boston would chip away at the deficit and eventually went in front by a 43-41 score on Pierce's triple 28 seconds prior to the break. Anderson knocked down a trey on the ensuing possession, however, to send the Hornets into the locker room carrying a one-point edge.
New Orleans would stay in front the rest of the way, thanks in part to outscoring the Celtics by an 11-2 count to begin the third quarter. Aminu accounted for seven of those points, including a jumper and subsequent free throw that made it a double-digit game at 55-45 just over four minutes into the frame.
Boston faced a deficit as large as 12 points during the period, but was able to whittle it down to three with a 9-3 surge capped by Garnett's jumper to start the fourth quarter that pulled the Celtics within 68-65.
The Celtics were down by four, 75-71, with six minutes to go, until New Orleans erupted for 12 consecutive points to put the contest out of reach.
Vasquez scored five points during that pivotal sequence, which ended when Anderson was fouled on a successful layup with 2:20 to go and hit the ensuing bonus shot for an 87-71 Hornets' lead.
The Rivers vs. Rivers encounter was the fourth instance when an NBA head coach opposed his son, with the most recent occurrence coming between then Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and Indiana's Mike Dunleavy Jr. in 2009 ... Garnett has now scored 24,824 career points, moving him past Patrick Ewing for 16th place on the NBA's all-time list ... New Orleans also finished with a 48-32 advantage in points in the paint ... Boston lost for only the second time in eight games since guard Avery Bradley returned from a shoulder injury ... The Hornets have now taken four of the last five games in the series, including two in a row at TD Garden.