By Patrick Whalen
The Celtics fall to another mediocre team as another player has a huge game against the Celts. Kemba Walker led the Hornets past the Celtics in Charlotte by a score of 117-112. It seems like every other night the Celtics have the opponents best players having career nights. Kemba followed up his franchise record-setting 60 point performance with 43 points on 14-25 shooting along with 7-13 from 3. 21 of those 43 points came down the stretch in the fourth quarter (Basketball-Reference.com). Time and time again this year the Celtics have had guys have career nights against them and Kemba is now the most recent one.
Before the game even started Brad Stevens tried to shake things up to get this team clicking by replacing Gordon Hayward in the starting line up with Aron Baynes. Despite getting the start though Baynes only played 7 minutes while Gordon had 30 minutes off the bench. The Celtics offense did have a bounce-back game after a poor performance against Utah on Saturday as they shot 51% from the field but still only shot 28% from three. The Celts also had 6 players in double figures led by Kyrie with 27 points to go along with his 11 assists including this nice pass to Tatum for a slam (Basketball-Reference.com).
But the defense struggled again giving up 117 points on 48% shooting and 37% from 3. Besides Kemba going off for 43 points the Celtics also allowed Jermy Lamb to go for 18 points and Willy Hernangomez, yes you read that right, to go for 14 points off the bench. The Celtics also lost the rebounding battle mostly because of some timely rebounds late in the fourth that were bouncing right out to Charlotte and a couple of them led to open shots for Kemba late in the game when he couldn’t miss (Basketball-Refernce.com).
Late in the fourth when Kemba just seemed like he could not miss, NBC Boston tweeted the perfect tweet to describe all of Celtics nation.
Kemba has been a very underrated player ever since he entered into the league and he’s reminded us of what a special talent he is over the last 2 games. He’s now scored a combined 103 points in his last 2 games and the Celtics just caught him at the wrong time as he is in a special kind of zone.
The Celtics have now fallen to 9-8 on the season and have been struggling mightily with putting together a consistent 48 minutes and being able to close out games late, whether that be offensively or defensively. I believe this team will be able to find the chemistry needed to get on a roll eventually but they need to figure out the lineups and sub-combinations that can lead to wins sooner rather than later. I like how Brad made the switch tonight but really Baynes was more of a symbolic lineup switch seeing how he only played 7 minutes in total. This team needs to start clicking on offense and also get back to playing the lockdown defense they had last year or else they could cost themselves home court in a series and that could result in an earlier than expected playoff exit.