The Boston Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season—and they know it.
“We are becoming an elite team and we are doing it because guys are sacrificing and sharing the ball,” Paul Pierce said after the Celtics ended Houston’s six-game winning streak with a 103-92 victory on Friday.
The Celtics will try to run their own winning streak to seven when they take on the lowly New Orleans Hornets.
Mark Blount came off the bench on Friday and matched his season high with 22 points to lead the Celtics, who have won 10 of 11 overall to build a 4 1/2 -game lead atop the Atlantic Division.
“This was another test for us. Houston was as hot as us, and maybe even hotter, and we came in and got the win,” said Pierce, who finished with 12 points.
Boston had six players score in double figures, led by Antoine Walker with 18 points, and its bench outscored Houston’s reserves 52-27.
“It was a great game for us and a test of where our team is,” Ricky Davis said. “Houston has been playing really well lately, but we had it the whole game. We were making our shots and playing together as a team.”
With Jamaal Magloire back in the starting lineup, the Hornets are hoping to build something positive for next season.
Magloire, who missed 51 games with a fractured right finger, scored 17 points in just his second game back as the Hornets posted a rare road win, 94-90 over Chicago on Friday.
“I think we were just more aggressive because of (Magloire),” Hornets coach Byron Scott said of his 6-foot-11 center. “I think he got it going early in the first quarter. That’s the one thing we missed all season long was that presence down there.”
The Hornets, who own the worst record in the Western Conference, improved to 4-28 on the road and won for the first time in 43 games this season when trailing going into the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been very conscious, my mindset coming into the game was just being active and trying to get as many rebounds as I could,” said Magloire, who finished with seven boards. “Everything clicked tonight. I felt good throughout the whole course of the game.”