With less than a second to play Anthony Davis tipped in a missed layup by teammate Eric Gordon to bring the Hornets ahead of the Celtics 87-86 and notch their first victory in five games.
Boston and New Orleans fought for the lead in the 4th quarter. The lead changed four times and was tied twice. The Celtics rallied their efforts behind the seasoned leadership of Paul Pierce, who scored 11 of his 28 points in the last period. The Hornets’ Ryan Anderson matched Pierce’s scoring, knocking down 11 of his total 21 points in the fourth.
But the decisive score of the game belonged to Hornets rookie big man Davis. With the Bees trailing by one point with 15.6 seconds left on the clock, the ball was inbounded to Gordon, who dribbled for a few seconds at the top of the three-point arc before deciding to drive into the lane for a lay-up. The ball hit the backboard and bounced off the side of the rim, and 6’10” Davis elevated over the Boston defense to tip the ball back in, giving the Hornets the one point edge. Davis ran back to the bench roaring as Boston called time-out.
“We called a play for Eric to go to the basket, and I knew everybody was going to help. He’s a fantastic scorer, and when he got to the basket, I was following like I was supposed to do and got the layup.” said Davis after the game.
The referees reviewed the tip for several minutes in ensure that Davis did not commit an offensive goaltend. The Celtics were left to inbound the ball with only 0.3 seconds left on the clock after the review. Their final efforts proved fruitless, however; Pierce inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who was unable to shoot before the clock expired.
The Hornets trailed 55-45 going into halftime. They fought their way back in the third quarter, outscoring the Celtics 22-12 and tying the score 67-67 as the teams entered the final period. New Orleans’ Brian Roberts scored the go-ahead bucket early in the fourth quarter with a driving lay-up, and after a scoreless Celtics possession he followed up with a three-pointer, putting the Hornets ahead 75-69 before the back-and-forth contest of the fourth quarter. Roberts scored 12 points, and had three assists and one steal off the bench tonight.
The Hornets’ defense held the Celtics to 32.4% shooting in the second half. New Orleans also out-rebounded the Celtics by 18 boards in the last two quarters. They grabbed 45 rebounds total tonight to Boston’s 28.
“For us, we have to play hard and we have to defend,” Hornets head coach Monty Williams commented after the game. “That is where it starts for us. We are not a team that is going to score 110 points on a night-in and night-out basis. In the third quarter we just defended. We held that team to 12 points. That is just something you don’t see from a Celtics team, and at the same time I thought we did a decent job containing our emotions and not letting that moment get to us.”
When asked about the excitement of the win Davis replied, “It is exciting. that’s a big win for us. That was a big win, especially because we were down early in the first half and came out with a lot of energy in the second half, fought back and got the win.”
The Hornets (23-46) host the Memphis Grizzlies (46-21) on Friday night.