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The Celtics led 55-45 at the half, but mustered just 12 points in the third quarter as the Hornets tied it up at 67 all as they headed into the fourth. Paul Pierce score 14 in each half and finished with a game high, 28 points.
Jeff Green started strong and looked to be on his way to an encore performance of Monday night, but after 11 first quarter points Green only scored two the rest of the way. Kevin Garnett, like all Celtics not named Pierce, also struggled in the second half as he scored just five of his 20 after intermission.
The Celtics rallied from a nine point fourth quarter deficit to take a five point lead with 1:53 to play, but did not score the rest of the way.
The typically stellar Celtics’ bench were outscored 39-17, and Jason Terry went 0-for-5 with two turnovers. Ryan Anderson had 21 points off the Hornets’ bench and was fouled by Pierce on a key three point attempt late in the fourth.
The Celtics didn’t do themselves a favor in the standings by dropping this one, as the Hawks, Nets, and Knicks all won Wednesday. The Celtics now find themselves alone in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics now face a tough back-to-back Friday at Dallas, and Saturday at Memphis.