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Charlotte - It was another lack of execution in the fourth for the Celtics on Wednesday night at the Time Warner Cable Center. Despite pulling within two with four minutes to play, it was Al Jefferson who held off the rally, scoring 11 points in the final quarter. In the end the Hornets won 96-87 and handed Boston their second consecutive lost on the road.
Jefferson led the way for Charlotte as he finished with a game high 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Kemba Walker added 18 points. Lance Stephenson chipped in with 13 points in the Hornets second straight win since snapping a 10-game losing streak.
"We just had to get some stops," said Jefferson. "We knew they could get hot fast. We just had to step up our defense."
Rajon Rondo recorded his third triple-double of the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Jeff Green and Marcus Thornton led the Celtics with 16 points apiece. Tyler Zeller, who was facing his brother Cody for the first time this season, added 13 points and eight assists in the loss.
The Hornets were up 26-18 to begin the second quarter and Boston went on a 20-6 run that gave the C's their biggest lead of the half 38-32. By intermission the Celtics were ahead 45-40, before the Hornets opened the third on a 11-4 run. With 1:37 remaining in the quarter, Charlotte had their biggest lead of the game at 71-59. Marcus Thornton's 13 point fourth quarter got the Celtics within two 87-85 with 4:37 left, before Kemba Walker and Jefferson hit back-to-back-to-back shots to extend the Hornets lead for good at 94-85 with 1:19 to go.
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"We made a little bit of a run at the start of the fourth, be couldn't quite get over the hump," said Brad Stevens. "We missed some opportunities, and they just played better than us."
After scoring a combined 233 points on Sunday and Monday against the Washington Wizards (an average of 116.5 points per game), the Celtics couldn't even break 90 against the 5-15 Hornets. There was no sense of urgency, and turnovers (Rondo's 3 out of his 4 came in the last three minutes) continue to become an issue down the stretch of games.
Boston now 7-13 will return home to the TD Garden to face the 4-20 New York Knicks. Tip off is at 7:30
The Celtics shot 5-23 from 3-point range for a mere 21.7 percent. The battle of the Zeller brothers continued on Wednesday, as Cody leads the series 5-0 over Tyler