Celtics honor Auerbach but fall to Hornets
Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Reigning Rookie of the Year Chris Paul had 20
points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City
Hornets played the role of spoilers by downing the Boston Celtics, 91-87, on a
night dedicated to the late Red Auerbach.
David West added 18 points and eight rebounds while Bobby Jackson had 14
points for the Hornets, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Celtics.
“(Paul) is a special player,” said Hornets head coach Byron Scott. “We knew
they would have trouble guarding our pick-and-roll all night long, especially
when we put him in the middle of the court, he can be very dangerous.”
Offseason additions Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic both had less than
stellar debuts. Chandler netted just six points with nine rebounds before
fouling out while Stojakovic had 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Paul Pierce had a monster game in the losing effort, posting 29 points and 19
rebounds. Wally Szczerbiak added 21 points for the Celtics.
Boston’s season got off to an emotional start as the Celtics paid tribute to
the legendary Auerbach, who passed away Saturday at the age of 89. Auerbach
compiled a 938-479 record during his Hall of Fame coaching career and was also
99-69 in the playoffs.
The pregame event featured a five-minute video tribute to the late coach as
well as a rendition of “Amazing Grace” that was performed by bagpipes.
The Celtics announced before the game that they are dedicating their season to
Auerbach and both home and away uniforms will feature a black shamrock emblem
with the name “Red” in honor of the late coach. The club also plans to develop
a special memorial logo on the floor of the Garden.
“If there was something you or your family needed in New England and you
didn’t consult Red, he was virtually offended because he considered it his
sacred duty to help his friends,” said NBA commissioner David Stern.
“And aside from of the talk about — and truth about — his competitiveness
and people sharing stories about Red yelling at them, what I don’t want to get
lost in the fact that this was a real gentleman and a very good friend to
everyone who was his friend,” continued Stern. “And that’s a great memory for
me. And I can’t help smiling when I think of Red.”
Auerbach was responsible for bringing 16 world titles to Boston and is tied
with current Lakers head coach Phil Jackson for the most championships in
“I’m not only going to dedicate this game to Red Auerbach, but every game I
play as long as I’m in a Celtic uniform,” Pierce said before the game.
Boston never led in the game as the Hornets kept the Celtics in check early.
However, Pierce and his club put together a late effort that would have made
Down 81-69 in the fourth, Pierce converted a layup and two free throws before
an Al Jefferson layup made it 81-75. Pierce then drained a jumper and was
later fouled on a three-point attempt from the right corner.
The forward was only able to hit 1-of-3, though, making it a three-point game
at 81-78. The two clubs then traded a pair of baskets each before Szczerbiak
hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it 85-83 with under three minutes to go.
Chandler then picked up his sixth foul at the other end and Jefferson hit 1-
of-2 to make it a one-point game. After the two teams traded misses,
Stojakovic converted a runner in the lane with Jefferson picking up his sixth
foul in the process.
“I never thought we ever had any flow to the game,” said Boston head coach Doc
Rivers. “I thought our execution for the most part was pretty bad.”
Stojakovic missed the free throw to keep it at 87-84 in favor of the Hornets
with 1:34 to go. He added a long jumper from straight away with 46.1 ticks
left to make it 89-84.
Out of a timeout, Boston worked the ball to Pierce, who was fouled on a spin
move in the lane. He hit only 1-of-2 to make it a four-point contest.
New Orleans slowed down the offense and Paul’s jumper was no good, but West
tipped home the rebound with 12.8 to go to make it 91-85 to seal the win.
“It was very important in that it was a very emotional night,” Paul said. “Red
Auerbach, he was the man. Everyone had a cigar and stuff like that. So there
were a lot of emotions were raging tonight and being the point guard, I just
tried to make sure we didn’t get caught up in that.”
Boston hit only 24-of-39 from the line while the Hornets were worse,
converting only 18-of-33 from the stripe.
The Hornets hit 50 percent of their shots in the opening quarter to en route
to a 26-16 lead. Jackson then netted the first five points of the second to
five the Hornets a 31-16 edge. New Orleans led 54-41 at the break and took a
75-65 edge into the fourth.
Jefferson finished with 13 points and four rebounds…Sebastian Telfair made
his Celtics debut and finished with five points…Boston outrebounded the
Hornets 52-46…Boston was 21-20 at home last season while the Hornets were
14-27 on the road.