Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Officials: #7 Lauren Holtkamp, #28 Kevin Scott, #49 Tom Washington
“It’s just good to have him back,” said Horford, who had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots as Boston rallied from 12 points down and ended a three-game losing streak while sending the Hornets to their fourth straight loss.
“It felt good for the most part,” said Thomas, who went 9-for-20 from the floor and also had five assists and was the key to a 15-0 run that established control of the game. “I was a little rusty here and there but it felt it good just to be able to help my team and most importantly us to get a win.”
Walker, Charlotte’s leading scorer, missed the game because of a personal issue and will rejoin the team Saturday night in Atlanta. His team clearly missed him, shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor in the Hornets’ fourth straight loss.
“We didn’t make shots in the last five minutes,” said Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, who had 22 point and 10 rebounds. “That’s maybe where we missed Kemba tonight.
“He’s one of the best closers in the league and this is when we missed him a lot tonight; that stretch the last five minutes.”
Thomas scored seven points during the big run that was aided by a four-point possession resulting from the flagrant-1 foul committed by Marco Belinelli on Thomas. Jae Crowder also scored seven points down the stretch as the Celtics won after trailing by 12 with 4:15 gone in the third quarter.
Belinelli offered to help Thomas up, but Boston’s Little Big Man said later, “I just got up on my own. If it’s not my teammates, then don’t help me up.”
Charlotte took 98 shots in the game but went just 8-for-30 from 3-point range.
Horford had a big third quarter, with eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. He finished with eight rebounds and five assists. But it was Thomas who led the way when it counted.
“Isaiah Thomas was the biggest part of it,” said Hornets coach Steve Clifford. “Frankly, again, the one thing we have to do, we have to make our layups and we have to make our open shots. Our game is a skill game.”
Before the game, he said his team’s defense had been terrible in the previous three games, the opposition shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, 44.4 from 3-point range. The Celtics were 43.6/32.1.