BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics tightened the Eastern
Conference playoff race with strong defense against the tired New
Antoine Walker scored 23 points as the Celtics held the Hornets
to a tie for the fewest points in franchise history, 93-65
One night earlier, New Orleans won at Indiana for its fifth
straight road victory.
"Indiana is very physical," Walker said. "We knew the Hornets
are not a great transition team so we wanted to get out and run."
The win moved the fifth-place Celtics (37-27) a game ahead of
the Hornets (37-29) in the East. The top six teams are separated by
four games, with Detroit first at 39-23.
Paul Pierce scored 21 points for the Celtics, who are 6-2 in
their last eight games. New Orleans, 1-2 after winning nine
straight, was led by Baron Davis with 16 points and Jamal Mashburn
"Paul asked to guard Mash before the game," Boston coach Jim
O'Brien said. "Anybody who wants to step up and take a challenge
like that, it's important."
The Hornets also scored 65 points on Dec. 20, 2000 when they
were in Charlotte and beat Miami 65-56.
"This was understandable," New Orleans coach Paul Silas said.
"Our guys were tired and we need a break."
After their third game in four nights, the Hornets have Thursday
off before two games in two days at Miami and Orlando.
"Even though we came off back-to-back games, you have to give a
lot of credit to the Celtics defense," said David Wesley, who
scored four points as his 31-game streak of scoring at least 10
ended. "We played into their hands by letting their defense get
The Hornets made just 32 percent of their field goal attempts.
The lopsided win -- helped by Boston's 10-for-22 shooting on
3-pointers -- allowed O'Brien to rest key players before Thursday
night's game at New Jersey.
"That's always a dilemma, as everybody knows, for me," he
said. "I never feel like a lead is big enough."
The game was close until late in the first half when Boston went
on a 16-2 run to turn a 29-25 edge into a 45-27 lead. The Celtics'
biggest lead was 30 points and they trailed only once, 2-0.
Wednesday's 28-point final margin was the Hornets' most lopsided
of the season. Their previous biggest losses were by 21 points,
108-87 at Philadelphia on Nov. 25 and 114-93 at Minnesota on Feb.
The Celtics' 16-2 surge started with Pierce's layup that made it
31-25 with 4:54 left in the half. That was the first of his eight
points in the run.
A dunk by Tony Battie and a layup by Pierce gave Boston a 35-25
lead. Then Pierce hit a free throw before Davis sank two for New
Orleans, cutting the lead to 36-27.
Boston closed the rally with three 3-pointers -- by Pierce,
Walker and Walter McCarty, making it 45-27 with 1:50 to go.
"We challenged every shot. Our offense was clicking," said
J.R. Bremer who had 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting on 3-pointers.
The Celtics took their biggest lead, 69-39, on a jumper by Mark
Blount with 2:33 left in the third quarter. That capped an 8-0 run
in which Pierce had the first six points.
"Being down 30 points (late in) the third quarter is hard to
accept," New Orleans' P.J. Brown said.
The Hornets cut the lead to 70-47 at the end of the third, but
Boston stretched it to 30 again on Walker's jumper with 6:42 left
to that made it 85-55.
Davis played in his second game after missing 20 following
knee surgery. ... Former Celtics guard Kenny Anderson was on the
opposing team in Boston's two biggest wins of the season. Now with
New Orleans, he was with Seattle on Feb. 5 when the Celtics beat
the SuperSonics 114-74 in Boston. ... Bimbo Coles scored 2 points
in his second game with Boston after playing for Cleveland. ...
Boston committed just six turnovers to 14 for New Orleans.