Charlotte Drops Preseason Home Opener to Celtics

By Sam Perley, hornets.com

By Sam Perley

Down six rotational players, the Charlotte Hornets fell behind early and never managed to fully recover on their way to a 108-100 loss to the visiting Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

The Hornets trailed by just four at the end of the opening frame, but were outscored, 33-18, in the second quarter on their way to a 19-point halftime deficit. Charlotte soon went down by a game-high 22 points before regrouping to eventually take a one-point lead with 3:50 remaining in the game.

Boston quickly responded though, closing out the night with a 12-3 run to finish off its preseason schedule with a perfect 4-0 record.

Malik Monk set the tone again for Charlotte with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench. The rookie from Kentucky has now scored 19-or-more points in each of his last three preseason games, something no first-year Hornets player has accomplished in the regular season since Kemba Walker (Feb. 11-15, 2012).

“He can score, he can score, he can score. He’s a good learner, he’s gotten in better shape here,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford. “He’s willing, I think that his defense will come because he’s willing, he’s a good guy. I think that being a good player is very important to him.”

Fellow rookie Dwayne Bacon, Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard all scored 12 points apiece while Cody Zeller came up just short of a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Leading the way for Boston was newcomer Kyrie Irving, who recorded his first double-double of the preseason with 16 points and a game-high 10 assists. Al Horford added 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and four assists as well.

Boston managed to do most of its damage from long range, connecting on a blistering 16-of-32 three-point attempts (50.0 percent). The Hornets knocked down just 13-of-37 shots from behind the arc (35.1 percent), although got four each from Monk and Bacon.

Only four Charlotte rookies have ever made four-or-more three-point field goals in a regular season game since the start of the 2007-08 NBA campaign (Augustin, Walker, Taylor and Hairston).

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal), Jeremy Lamb (groin), Michael Carter-Williams (knees), Treveon Graham (hamstring), Julyan Stone (hamstring) and Nicolas Batum (elbow) were all unavailable for Charlotte.

The Hornets will finish off their preseason schedule beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13 against the visiting Dallas Mavericks.

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