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Celtics Stung at the Buzzer by Hornets

Boston CelticsNEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis outreached Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green for a last-second tip-in, and the New Orleans Hornets snapped a four-game skid with an 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Davis was playing despite missing the morning shootaround with an illness, and finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Ryan Anderson scored 21 points and Eric Gordon 18 for the Hornets. Gordon’s floater to win it in the waning seconds missed, but followed up for the winner.

Paul Pierce scored 11 points of his 28 points in the last six minutes to nearly lead Boston back from a nine-point deficit, but missed a jumper with 16 seconds left that could have put the Celtics up by three.

Garnett, returning from a two game absence caused by a left thigh injury and the flu, scored 20 — not quite enough to spare Boston from a second straight loss.

Green, coming off a career-high 43 points in Boston’s loss to Miami on Monday night, scored 13 points, all in the first half.

The loss dropped Boston into seventh in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind Brooklyn for the fourth seed, which carries with it home advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Nets beat Dallas, while fifth-place Atlanta beat Milwaukee to pull 1 1/2 games ahead of the Celtics.

Boston had been in control much of the game and led by as many as 13 after Pierce’s 3 made it 60-47 early in the third quarter.

Then New Orleans steadily whittled away. During a nearly five-minute span, the Hornets went on a 9-2 run that included dunks by Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu, and tied the game at 65 on Anderson’s free throws with 1:02 left in period.

Anderson then answered David Lee‘s jumper with two more free throws to tie it at 67 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hornets then surged into the lead. Brian Roberts hit a driving layup and 3 to open the period, and Anderson later added six straight points to put New Orleans ahead 78-69.

The momentum changed when Pierce worked his way inside for a layup and Garnett followed a reverse layup, igniting a 10-0 run that included a tough soaring scoop shot from Jordan Crawford and four more free throws from Pierce.

After Anderson restored New Orleans’ lead with a 3, Pierce tied it with a driving two-handed dunk and followed that with a 3 to put Boston up 84-81 with 2:34 left.

That gave Pierce 11 of 15 Boston points in a span of about three-and-a-half minutes, but he finished the game with a couple of missed mid-range jumpers, giving New Orleans just enough of a window to pull out the upset.

Garnett started fast after his brief layoff, scoring 14 points in the first half. Pierce 12 during the opening two periods, which the Celtics largely controlled.

Boston led by as many as 12 in the opening half, taking a 50-38 lead on Garnett’s layup, and the Celtics led 55-45 at halftime.

Game notes

While Austin Rivers‘ broken right hand prevented him from playing against the team his father, Doc Rivers, coaches, the younger Rivers said he was at least able to take his father out for dinner at one of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurants on Tuesday night. “That’s the first time I’ve ever paid for my dad,” Austin Rivers said. “The bill came and I was ready to get up. … He looked at me like, `It’s your turn now.’ It feels good. You work hard. Finally you take care of somebody that has taken care of your whole life.” … The Hornets won the teams’ only other matchup this season, 97-78 in Boston on Jan. 16. … Boston fell to 12-21 on the road and wraps up its three-game road trip with games on Friday at Dallas and Saturday at Memphis.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
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