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Wednesday, 20 March 2013 22:54

Game #67 Recap: Boston Celtics Tripped Up By New Orleans Hornets, 87-86

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NEW ORLEANS -- If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If you fail again? Maybe it’s time for a new approach. Paul Pierce -- playing hero-ball -- missed a potential game-winning shot for the second night in a row as the Boston Celtics fell on the road to the New Orleans Hornets, 87-86 on Wednesday night.

Anthony Davis, the future of the New Orleans franchise, tipped in a missed layup by Eric Gordon with .03 left to play for the final margin of victory. Fitting that on the first day of spring, the most recent #1 overall pick provided the biggest bucket of the night.

The Hornets (23-46) won both games against the Celtics (36-31) this season, and have beaten Boston five of the last six times.

Kevin Garnett returned to action for the Celtics, and while their defensive anchor helped keep the scoring total low on one end, he and his teammates weren’t able to do much on the offensive end.

Quite astonishing after a first half in which the Celtics scored 55 points on 60 percent shooting from the field.

The energy simply wasn’t there for a full 48 minutes. Understandable after blowing a late 13-point lead against the Miami Heat on Monday night. Yet for a team clawing up the Eastern Conference standings -- with the Atlantic Division and 2-seed very much still in play -- they can ill afford to lose games like this at home or on the road.

An off-shooting night (Boston shot 32.43 percent in the second half) is one thing, but a lack of effort is inexcusable. Boston was out-rebounded 45-28. Yes, the Celtics are statistically a poor team on the glass, but rebounding has as much to do with effort at this level than positioning.

Ryan Anderson led the Hornets with 21 points, on just 5-12 shooting, thanks to going 9-11 at the free throw line. None bigger than two of the three freebies he hit with 35 seconds left in the game after Pierce fouled Anderson on a three-point attempt.Eric Gordon slashed his way through the defense for 18 points and Greivis Vasquez -- who has more double-doubles than any other point guard in the NBA (24) this season -- had another good all-around game putting up 13 points, six assists, and seven rebounds.

One night after setting a new career-high 43 points, Jeff Green started the game on fire. He didn’t miss from the field or line with 10:25 to go in the second quarter. Green scored all of his 13 points in his first nine minutes of action. After the game against Miami, Green said his aggressiveness is key for him. He disappeared completely the rest of the game.

It’s this kind of inconsistency from Green that’s maddening for Celtics fans and must be even harder to see for head coach Doc Rivers.

He knows what he’s getting from Pierce and Garnett. The reliable duo went 18-33 from the field (54.5%) for 48 points, combined to grab eight rebounds and dish out eight assists. In the 24 games since Rajon Rondo went down, the Celtics have been searching for a new member of The Big Three.

Last night was supposed to be the coming out party for Green many were waiting for. Instead, it was the same old Celtics who’ve followed up a nice showing (nearly toppling the Heat without Garnett) with a half-hearted effort the next time out.

The Boston Celtics visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at 8:30pm as they look to avoid their first three-game losing streak since the end of January.

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