HEADLINE

Hornets hope to hand Celtics season-worst 3rd straight loss

Field Level Media

April 12, 2024 at 10:10 am.

The Boston Celtics will be attempt to avoid their third straight loss when they face the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Boston (62-18) took a 104-91 road loss against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, then fell 118-109 to the visiting New York Knicks on Thursday. The Celtics have been resting their starters in the fourth quarter of games since they clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on April 3.

The Celtics trailed the Knicks 69-48 at halftime, and New York went on to end Boston’s 13-game home winning streak.

“I did not like the effort level in the first half, but it’s just a tough spot to be in,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I thought our guys have handled (having nothing to play for) as best as they could.

“We ran into, in our last two games, two teams that were highly, highly desperate. As much as we want to be able to simulate that, that’s just not the position that we’re in.

“But I actually don’t mind the result of the last two games because I think that’s important. Going (into the playoffs) with a bunch of wins and feeling good about yourself isn’t any better than having a little bit of a bloody lip.”

The Friday matchup will be the third game between the Celtics and Hornets this season, with both of the previous contests in Charlotte. The Hornets won 121-118 in overtime on Nov. 20, and Boston prevailed 118-104 on April 1.

Boston has not lost three games in row this season. The Celtics also will be trying to avoid taking back-to-back home losses for the first time since January, when they lost to the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Hornets (20-60) have dropped six of their past eight games, but they are coming off a 115-114 road victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Charlotte trailed by 18 points late in the third quarter and was down 92-77 entering the final 12 minutes.

Hornets rookie Brandon Miller scored a game-high 27 points in the win. Tre Mann added 16 points, seven steals and a career-high seven assists.

“Brandon was great under pressure,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We just kept going, possession by possession. We’ve actually been pretty good at that over the year. They did a good job, kept their poise, came back and made a bunch of plays late.”

Miller sank 9 of 17 shots from the field, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range. He became the fifth rookie in NBA history to have at least seven games of 25 points and five 3-pointers, joining Stephen Curry (nine), Allen Iverson (eight), Trae Young (seven) and Cade Cunningham (seven).

“Being locked in on the defensive side — I think that’s why we won,” Miller said. “It’s definitely important to play as many games as you can and get better with your teammates. I feel like that’s one of the things we’re working on now. Getting better through all these games even though we’re not in the playoffs or anything like that. Our mentality is to go out here and get better.”

Charlotte will end its season with a road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. The Celtics will end the regular season at home versus the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

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