First impressions: Hornets 93, Celtics 85
Instant reaction after the New Orleans Hornets posted an 93-85 triumph over the Boston Celtics Wednesday at the New Orleans Arena:
How the game was won: Darren Collison, starting in place of injured Chris Paul, scored a team-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting with 9 assists and 4 steals to pace the Hornets. Peja Stojakovic added 20 points, including a quartet of 3-pointers, while Morris Peterson added 16 points with a trio of trifectas for New Orleans. Celtics captain Paul Pierce, playing with a left mid-foot sprain, finished with a team-high 15 points, despite a 4-of-11 shooting performance, with 8 cringe-worthy turnovers and a minus-17 in the plus/minus category.
Turning point: Boasting a 12-point halftime lead, the Celtics once again came out flat in the third quarter and watched the Hornets outscore them 29-12, allowing the hosts to take a five-point lead into the final period. Boston led by double digits with just more than seven minutes to play in the third quarter, but an 11-0 burst over a 100-second span helped vault New Orleans to a 72-65 lead with 1:45 to go.
Stat of the game: The Celtics scored 30 points in the second half; New Orleans scored 29 in the third quarter.
Unsung hero: Marquis Daniels highlighted a tremendous bench effort, scoring 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds and a block over 21 minutes in his second game back since left-thumb surgery sidelined him for 28 games.
What it means: It's hard to put this one in words. The Celtics apparently didn't learn a single thing from Sunday's meltdown against the Magic. After being outscored 36-11 in the third quarter of that game, the Celtics watched New Orleans hold a 29-12 scoring advantage in the third period Wednesday. Fortunately for Boston, it's the All-Star break. The team desperately needs a mental health week. It will be interesting to see if the roster looks the same when they reconvene Feb. 16 in Sacramento.
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