Celtics all the talk, host Hornets
BOSTON — The Celtics held a lengthy team meeting after Friday night’s home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We’ve got to play to a certain level, and we haven’t been playing to that level,” Jaylen Brown said after his team suffered its third straight loss. “We had a talk, and today was the time we chose to talk. I’ll keep it confined to what we talked about to between us, but we’ve got to do better.”
Said Kyrie Irving, who first said it was “none of y’all business, honestly,” revealed: “Much needed, much needed. I think everyone can see that we’ve obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play, so I think it was just time to address it.”
The three-game losing streak, which the Celtics hope to end with Sunday night’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets, comes after an eight-game winning streak as the team exploded after at 10-10 start.
It also comes amid more injuries. Al Horford has missed the last six games with a sore knee, Marcus Morris has been out for two (knee) and Aron Baynes went down for a month with broken hand suffered Wednesday.
Said coach Brad Stevens: “We have to play better. I mean, I don’t really operate in the — on a meter of concern. I just know we’ve got to play a lot better to be the team we want to be, and to compete against a team like that.”
The Hornets (16-15) are playing well, winning two straight and five of their last seven.
“He’s at the core of who we are,” coach James Borrego said of the 32-year-old Williams. “I’m really proud of him, he shot the ball well and his teammates were looking for him. He was locked and loaded tonight.”
The Celtics swept the two home games against Charlotte in each of the past two seasons and the Hornets scored their first win over Boston since the 2014-15 season when they won 117-112 at home Nov. 19.
Walker had 43 points in that victory and the former UConn star has averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game in 22 contests against the Celtics.
The guard comes into this game averaging 25.0 points, 6.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game on the season — all career-high numbers.
He recently suffered through a 2-for-13 shooting night against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, but has bounced back with 52 points in the last two games, going 20-for-43 from the floor, 8-for-21 from 3-point range and adding 11 assists in the two games — both wins.
He started 0-for-7 in a 30-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but again caught fire after that. At one point, he had missed 16 straight 3-pointers over three games.
The Celtics have suffered two straight losses at home to fall to 9-5 at TD Garden, while the Hornets, who sit in sixth place in the conference — Boston is fifth — are 4-8 on the road.