Hornets 87, Celtics 86

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS - Anthony Davis sliced between Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green to tip in a missed layup by Eric Gordon with .3 seconds left to lift the New Orleans Hornets to an 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
In sweeping the season series against the Celtics, the Hornets surrendered a 13-point fourth-quarter lead but then recovered from an 86-81 deficit with 1:52 left to snap a four-game losing streak.
Down 86-85, Gordon drove down the right side of the lane against Avery Bradley, but his layup attempt bounced off the rim. Davis, who scored only nine points, snuck inside and tipped the ball in with his right hand. The tip-in was his eighth rebound of the game.
Referee Joey Crawford went to view a replay of the score and subsequently ruled Davis had not committed basket interference.
The Hornets (23-46) were paced by Ryan Anderson with 21 points and Gordon with 18. The Celtics (36-31) got a game-high 28 points from Paul Pierce and 20 from Kevin Garnett.
Pierce's 3-pointer with 10:21 left in the third quarter gave Boston its biggest lead of the game, 60-47. But the Hornets scored nine consecutive points to narrow the deficit to 60-56, part of a 20-7 run to end the third quarter that tied the score, 67-67, after three.
The Celtics' torrid shooting went ice cold in the third quarter as Boston made just 5 of 18 field goal attempts (28 percent).
An 11-2 Hornets' run to start the fourth quarter - with six points coming from Anderson and five from Brian Roberts - gave New Orleans its biggest lead, 78-67, with 6:14 remaining.
The Celtics comeback started innocently enough. Pierce and Garnett scored in close on consecutive possessions, drawing Boston within 78-73. Then Jordan Crawford hit a driving layup on the right side, and Pierce was fouled on a pump fake and made two free throws.
A bad exchange near halfcourt between Vasquez and Al-Farouq Aminu resulted in a turnover that Pierce turned into two more free throws, putting Boston up 79-78.
After Anderson hit a 3 to put the Hornets back on top, 81-79, Pierce drove hard for a dunk and then followed that up with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:34 left, putting Boston up 84-81. Brandon Bass' tip-in of his own miss capped a 17-3 Celtics run, and gave Boston an 86-81 lead with 1:52 left.
Gordon's floater in the lane cut the lead to 86-83, and after a stop Anderson was fouled on a 3-point attempt from the left baseline by Pierce, giving him a chance to tie the game with 35.3 second left. But Anderson made only 2 of 3, cutting the deficit to 86-85.
Pierce missed a 16-foot attempt over Gordon, and Anderson grabbed the rebound with 15.6 second left.
The Celtics shot a blistering 60 percent from the field (21 of 35) in the first half, racing to a 55-45 halftime lead. Green, who had a career-high 43 points in a 105-103 loss to the Heat on Monday, scored 13 first-half points in just 15 minutes off the bench.
After missing the previous two games, Garnett led Boston with 14 first-half points, and Pierce added 12. Garnett, Green and Pierce were a combined 14 of 23 from the floor in the first half.
The Hornets, who committed 20 turnovers in a loss to Golden State on Monday, turned it over 12 times in the first half. Avery Bradley had three first-half steals and harassed Greivis Vasquez by playing tight defense, but Vasquez still was able to lead the Hornets with 10 first-half points.
The Celtics built an early lead with a 13-2 run in the first quarter, with Green scoring five points in 98 seconds.
NOTES: Garnett returned to the Celtics lineup after missing two games with a strained abductor muscle and a stomach ailment. "He would've played the Miami game (on Monday), but he was sick," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm going to watch it because with Kevin, you don't ever trust that he's 100 percent. (But he'll have) no restrictions or anything like that." ... Rivers said he was delighted with the late progress of his son, rookie Hornets guard Austin Rivers, before his season ended March 6 with a broken right hand. In his last game against the Lakers, he scored 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting in the first half. "I just thought his tempo (improved)," Rivers said of his son. "You could see early in the year he got to the paint whenever he wanted to, but he was doing it so fast and he was going so deep that he couldn't make the shots. I thought right when he slowed down and pulled up a second earlier than going in with the trees that he was really effective. I knew it was going to come. I just didn't know when. The first thing I always look at as a scout is if a guy can get his shot. I don't even care if it goes in or not early on. You saw he could do that. And then when it started going in, it helped."... Hornets forward Anthony Davis was battling a stomach ailment, and the training staff was trying to get him to force fluids.

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