For the second straight game, the C's kept alive a season-long pattern of letting a large second-half lead vanish, this time dropping a 93-85 decision in New Orleans on Wednesday night.
This time, a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter was turned into a seven-point deficit before the quarter came to a close. Boston has been outscored 65-23 in the last two third quarters.
As was the case Sunday against Orlando, when the Celtics allowed the Magic to score 19 straight points in the third, the C's were able to rally a bit in the fourth. Alas, the hole was too big to escape.
Marquis Daniels scored six straight points to cut Boston's deficit to 76-75, but Darren Collison had nine points in a row for New Orleans to open things up. The C's never got closer than three points down the stretch.
Daniels had 14 points off the bench, which provided 40 points as a group. Absent Ray Allen, who was out with back spasms, the Celtics' starting five combined to shoot 15-of-40.
Headliner: OK, so he set a Hornets franchise record with 10 turnovers. But there were 45 total turnovers in this game, so Collison's indiscretions can be excused.
Throw in the fact that Chris Paul's replacement had 25 points, nine assists and four steals and the mistakes mean almost nothing.
It was also Collison who scored 11 straight Hornets points in the fourth quarter to keep the Celtics at bay after Boston had trimmed a seven-point deficit to one.
Unsung Hero: Foul trouble limited him late, but Morris Peterson had his best game of the season by far. Peterson had season highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds and scored the first five points of the second half, setting the tone for New Orleans' comeback.
Scrub: It's easy to look at Paul Pierce's eight turnovers or Kevin Garnett's scoreless second half, but Kendrick Perkins continues to play some lackluster ball.
Very quietly, Perkins has struggled of late and is finding himself on the bench more and more at the end of games. He has made just five of 14 shots over the last three (this from the league's field-goal percentage leader) and looks hesitant around the hoop at times.
Perk produced one field goal against a Hornets unit which is regularly outscored in the paint.
Turning Point: Like a lot of recent games for the Celtics, the momentum shifts at intermission, but it was about five minutes into the second half when things really turned around.
With Boston ahead 62-50, Peterson drilled a 3-pointer and Peja Stojakovic added two more from beyond the arc. The pair combined for six straight points moments later to give the Hornets the lead for good and Stojakovic's hoop with 1:45 left in the third established a game-high seven-point bulge for New Orleans.
Up Next: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will strut their stuff at All-Star weekend in Dallas, but the Celtics will then limp into Sacramento on Tuesday. It is the second of five straight on the road and the first of four out West.
Boston finally returns home Feb. 23 to host New York.
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