Celtics Drop to 0-3 Without Paul Pierce After Falling to Hornets


December 29, 2011

Celtics Drop to 0-3 Without Paul Pierce After Falling to HornetsNEW ORLEANS — Jarrett Jack‘s first regular-season start since the Chris Paul trade was more than good enough for the New Orleans Hornets.

Jack had 21 points and nine assists in his season debut, and New Orleans dominated in its home opener, beating the winless Boston Celtics 97-78 on Wednesday night.

The Celtics are 0-3 for the first time since 2006-07, the season before they traded to bring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in to help star Paul Pierce. Pierce has yet to play this season because of a bruised right heel.

The Hornets, meanwhile, were without Eric Gordon, who bruised his right knee in a season-opening win at Phoenix in which he scored a team-high 20 points.

Jack did not play in the win over the Suns on Monday night because of a one-game suspension stemming from a drunken driving arrest last season. His return helped a Hornets squad looking for a boost in Gordon’s absence, and power forward Carl Landry pitched in with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Allen led Boston with 15 points.

Jack inherited the Hornets’ starting point guard job in the preseason after Paul, a four-time All-Star, was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Kaman, who had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench in his Hornets debut Monday, came back with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots against Boston.

Kaman backed up Emeka Okafor, who had 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Marco Belinelli, who started for Gordon at shooting guard, was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and also finished with 13 points. Five of Landry’s rebounds came on the offensive end, helping the Hornets outscore the Celtics 21-11 in second-chance points.

Rajon Rondo scored 13 for Boston, while Louisiana native and former LSU star Brandon Bass added 11 points and Keyon Dooling chipped in 10.

Kevin Garnett had a difficult night in what was Boston’s third road game in four nights to open this lockout-compressed season. He finished with eight points on 4-for-10 shooting.

The Celtics shot like a team with tired legs, hitting only 37 percent from the field (29 of 78). New Orleans, by contrast, appeared energized by a sellout crowd, shooting 45.6 percent and outrebounding Boston 48-37. The Hornets also had a whopping 46-24 advantage in points in the paint.

New Orleans took the lead for good late in the first quarter and Belinelli’s 3 ignited a 13-4 run to open the fourth. Landry’s jumper capped the spurt, giving New Orleans an 85-67 lead with 6:25 to go.

Boston’s largest lead was 9-2 before the Hornets stiffened defensively and raced into the lead with an 8-0 run ignited by Belinelli’s 3. It was capped by Jack’s steal and fast-break layup. Belinelli later added a three-point play on a tough fade as he was fouled and fell to the court, helping the Hornets build a 24-18 lead by the end of the opening period.

The Hornets led by as many as 16 points in the first half after Okafor and Landry scored four points each during an 8-0 run that made it 46-30.

Boston, which fell behind in large part because of 33 percent shooting (15 of 45) in the opening two periods, cut its deficit to single digits with a 9-2 run capped by Rondo’s end-to-end layup in the final seconds of the half, making it 48-39.

Attendance for the home opener was announced as an overflow 17,802. … Celtics rookie Greg Stiemsma blocked six shots. … Boston also was without F-C Chris Wilcox, who has a bruised right shoulder. … The Celtics return to Boston for their home opener on Friday against Detroit. … The Hornets remain at home for their next contest on Friday against Phoenix.

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