Hornets 114, Celtics 100
BOSTON — Jeremy Lin turned Asian-American Night at TD Garden into a night of his own.
The former Harvard star ran wild during the second quarter, scoring 19 of his 25 points in the second quarter, 17 of them during a 31-3 explosion that led his Charlotte Hornets to a 114-100 rout of the Boston Celtics on Monday in an important game for playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics confirmed they hold Asian-American Night to coincide with Lin's visit, and he came off the bench in the first quarter and then dominated the game in the second — when the Celtics went almost eight minutes without a basket.
Lin, who came in averaging 11.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists, as the Hornets handed the Celtics, losers of two straight, only their third loss in their last 21 home games. Lin was 10-of-10 from the foul line.
The win pulled the Hornets into a tie with the Celtics and the Miami Heat for fourth place in the conference, a game behind the Atlanta Hawks. Boston, which owns the tie-breaker over Charlotte and Miami but not over Atlanta, hosts the Heat in the regular-season finale on Wednesday night.
The third- and fourth-place teams get home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hornets, going 14-of-32 on 3-pointers, led by as many as 28 points in the third quarter and by 22 at the end of three. The Celtics caught fire in the first half of the fourth quarter, chopping the lead down to 15. But they failed to get any closer.
The only down note for the Hornets was the loss of Nicolas Batum to a left ankle sprain early in the third quarter — never good news with the playoffs coming.
Kemba Walker scored 18 points and dished out six assists in the win, while former Celtic Al Jefferson, making his first start since Nov. 29 with Cody Zeller injured, had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Marvin Williams also scored 16 points.
Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley scored 17 points apiece, Evan Turner added 15 and Kelly Olynyk had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Boston. Rookie R.J. Hunter scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter.
There were runs by both teams in the first quarter — the Hornets with nine straight points, then the Celtics with seven — but it was nothing compared to what was coming from the visitors in the second quarter.
It started innocently enough, with the Celtics, up by four after the first quarter, building the lead to six on a Turner follow with 9:22 left in the half. Then, Lin took the game over, scoring 11 of the 13 points in a 13-0 run and then, after a Thomas free throw, leading his team to 11 more points in a row.
After a Marcus Smart tap gave the Celtics their first basket in almost eight minutes, the Hornets scored the last seven points of the half, the last two by Lin, and led by 22 at the break, with the home crowd booing.
The Celtics were 1-of-15 from the floor and turned the ball over six times during the Charlotte run.
NOTES: With C Cody Zeller out with a bruised sternum, former Celtic Al Jefferson made his first start since Nov. 29 for the Hornets. Zeller had made 32 straight starts and the hope is he can return for the regular-season finale against the Orlando Magic. … The Celtics brought G/F John Holland, a former Boston University star, up from the D-League after he averaged 28.5 points per game for the Canton Charge against the Celtics' Maine Red Claws. “He's a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size (6-foot-5) for a perimeter player,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. … Hornets coach Steve Clifford on his team closing the regular season in search of playoff homecourt advantage: “We played two months of really good basketball and we have two games here to get that back.” … Boston F Jae Crowder, sick over the weekend, was able to play Monday. … Clifford called Boston G Isaiah Thomas the most underrated offensive player in the Eastern Conference.