Charlotte was without three of its top scorers. LaMelo Ball (fractured right wrist) and Malik Monk (sprained right ankle) were joined by Gordon Hayward on the injured list Friday after he sprained his right foot during a win at Indiana.
The Hornets are 5-3 since Ball’s injury on March 20 but have lost two of their last three, with two games left on a six-game trip.
Hayward’s injury derailed his first chance to play against his former club Sunday after he declined a player option with the Celtics last offseason and was dealt to the Hornets, ending his disjointed three-year stint in Boston.
Charlotte led 18-9 in the first quarter but couldn’t keep up with Boston’s outside shooting. The Celtics outscored the Hornets 33-17 in the second quarter and were 10 for 27 from 3-point range in the first half. Charlotte made just 4 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc and had nine turnovers leading to eight Boston points.
Hornets coach James Borrego acknowledged before the game that the injuries would require his team to collectively find new ways to score, saying they couldn’t rely too heavily on Rozier or Graham.
While Charlotte did a decent job of spreading the ball around, it relied too heavily on outside shots that weren’t falling.
For the night the Hornets shot just 40% from the field (32 of 80) and were 10 of 31 beyond the arc.
Hornets: Had 17 turnovers, leading to 15 Boston points. … Bench was outscored 37-34.
Celtics: Tatum splashed a 3-pointer to beat the horn to end the third quarter. Smart beat the second-quarter buzzer with a corner 3 to end the first half and sent Boston to the locker room with a 58-43 lead. … Romeo Langford made his season debut after having surgery to repair a ligament in his right wrist during the preseason. He played 12 minutes, scored three points and had a block, rebound and an assist. Coach Brad Stevens said he expects his minutes to slowly be ramped up over the next few weeks. … Semi Ojeleye (left side strain) and Tristan Thompson (post health and safety protocols reconditioning) were both out.
Hornets: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Celtics: Host 76ers on Tuesday.
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