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Fast Break: Slow Celtics get stung by Hornets

12.28.11 at 10:34 pm ET
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There’s no sense worrying about the schedule because it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. There’s no use pining for Paul Pierce because the last thing the Celtics need is for him to be bothered by his bone bruise all season long. This is the Celtics’ reality and right now they are 0-3 after a dispiriting 97-78 loss to New Orleans.

Their legs may be tired after playing at warp speed against Miami on Tuesday, but the Celtics barely resemble their teams of recent vintage. Their offense was stagnant (16 assists and 37 percent shooting) and their defense was slow and lumbering.

The unfortunate symbol of their lethargy was Kevin Garnett who was outplayed by Carl Landry one night after getting worked by Chris Bosh. Garnett had no lift, scoring just eight points in 26 minutes and was often caught behind the play on pick and rolls. Garnett was far from the only offender, but on a night when the Celtics needed something from their All-Star forward, he didn’t have the legs to deliver.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel with games against Detroit, Washington (twice) and New Jersey next on tap. Three of those are at home beginning Friday night against the Pistons but they will once again be playing three games in four night and four in six.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The Celtics one again had a huge free throw discrepancy in the first half as the Hornets went to the line 15 times to the Celtics’ seven. Boston didn’t shoot a free throw until the 4:04 mark of the second quarter. The Celtics haven’t received many favorable whistles, but their rate of putting opponents on the line is troubling and indicative of an older team that has failed to rotate defensively.

Ray Allen picked up three fouls in the first half and played just 13 minutes. The Celtics desperately needed his shooting in a half in which they missed 30 of 45 shots.

Keyon Dooling can do a lot of things, but running the team isn’t one of his strengths yet. When Rondo was out of the game, the Celtics offense had no rhythm or flow and it was difficult to tell if they were actually running any kind of an offense besides high pick and rolls that went nowhere. It’s not entirely Dooling’s fault. With so many new players, continuity is a major issue, but the Celtics have really struggled when Rajon Rondo is out of the game.

Jermaine O’Neal was just 1-for-6 in 19 minutes. In 58 minutes played this season, O’Neal is 3-for-12 and has scored just eight points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Welcome to the NBA, Greg Stiemsma. The former Defensive Player of the Year in the D-League wasted no time asserting his shot-blocking ability as he rejected a shot on his very first possession as an NBA player. Stiemsma finished with six blocks and provided a shot-blocking presence that the Celtics simply haven’t had.

— Rondo and Allen continue to do the majority of the work offensively. The duo made 10-of-18 shots and scored 28 points. The rest of the Celtics were 19-for-60.

Sasha Pavlovic had his best game by far, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. Faint praise, but it’s a start for the maligned swigman.

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