BOSTON (AP)—After the Celtics had a sluggish first half, Ricky Davis decided to take over.
Davis scored 17 of his 32 points in the third quarter to help Boston beat the New Orleans Hornets 91-78 on Monday night.
“We said at halftime we’re going to pick it up in the second half, and that’s what we did,” Boston forward Paul Pierce said.
Neither team played well in the opening half, missing a number of easy shots and turning the ball over carelessly.
But in the third quarter, the Celtics started hitting their shots and took control.
“I think both teams settled into `this isn’t our night mode’,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “The home team has to win those games, and that’s what we did.”
The Hornets shot only 36 percent (27-for-76) and lost for just the second time in seven games.
“I just thought we were terrible,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “Offensively, defensively, effort wise. I just didn’t think we came out with any passion tonight, for whatever reason.”
Raef LaFrentz added 18 points and Pierce had 16 and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who have won six of their last eight home games.
Behind the outside shooting of LaFrentz, the Celtics used a 17-7 run to take a 63-51 lead midway into the third quarter. LaFrentz hit three 3-pointers in a 2:56 span and closed the spree with another jumper.
After LaFrentz got the Celtics’ offense started, Davis took over, scoring 11 points to spark a 15-2 run that closed the quarter and put the game away. During the spurt, he had a reverse dunk and was fouled, hitting the free throw. Later, he hit a pair of 3s only 24 seconds apart as Boston led 78-55 after three quarters.
“It felt good. The basket was kind of wide,” said Davis, who went seven for eight from the floor in the third quarter. “You don’t ever see who’s guarding you. You just get it and put it up.”
In fact, Davis had more baskets than the Hornets as a team in the decisive third quarter.
“We tried to make rotations and stops on Ricky Davis, but once he got going we couldn’t stop him,” said David West, who scored 19 of his team-high 21 points in the first half. “We played a decent first half, but just didn’t bring it in the second half. In fact, it was just the exact opposite. We didn’t play with any effort.”
J.R. Smith added 16 points and was the only other New Orleans player in double figures.
Davis had Boston’s first two baskets of the fourth quarter and left to a big ovation with 7:11 to play.
The Hornets made a late charge to close the gap with the Celtics reserves on the floor.
The Celtics led 42-39 at halftime.
In the first half, West hit nine of 13 shots while his teammates were a combined 4-for-26.
As expected, most of the pregame discussion centered on Kobe Bryant’s 81 points Sunday night. “Its one of the greatest individual performances I’ve ever seen,” said Pierce, who watched the game on TV. … Davis was one point shy of his season-high. … Pierce was one rebound short of his 15th double-double this season. … Unlike Bryant’s showing, the teams combined to miss 18 of the first 19 shots in the second quarter, with Pierce hitting the only shot. … West had the Hornets’ first nine points of the game. … After the game, Rivers made a push with the media to have Pierce selected to the Olympic Team. “I think he’s done enough, in my eyes, to be on it.”