Thomas (again) leads Celtics past Hornets, 121-114

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Isaiah Thomas went for 32 points to lead six C's in double figures, but they had to claw back after seeing a 19-point third-quarter lead dissolve into a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit.

His Celtics did exactly that.

"Really, the story of our season has been we haven't been able to defend in the fourth quarter", Clifford said. Tonight, we needed to win this game. They have failed to cover in their last two games as well to drop to 35-41-3 against the spread on the season.

The Celtics built a 71-54 halftime lead by shooting 63 percent from the field, including 11 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc. "I am going to get back on the court and work on myself".

The Hornets (36-44) were officially eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race with the loss.

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Making the rally even more impressive was the fact that they did it primarily without their head coach Steve Clifford who was ejected in the second quarter with 1:09 to play in the half.

Charlotte fought back to lead 104-97 on Marvin Williams' 3-pointer with 6:38 left, but the Celtics responded by scoring nine straight to retake the lead going into the final four minutes.

Boston's lead seemed on the verge of cracking the 20-point barrier early in the third, but a slew of missed shots, not-so-great defensive rotations and their Achilles heel - poor rebounding - all seemed to converge as Boston's lead was down to 79-70 following an 8-0 run by Charlotte.

Batum scored 31, Kemba Walker came up with 23 points and Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to deliver 17 points for Charlotte.

After the offense went missing for most of the second half. "And we made a couple of plays on both sides of the floor, and we got a win".

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"The first thing I had to do was apologize to the team for doing that", Clifford said.

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"We're disappointed for sure", Batum said. We were right there with all those teams.

The Boston Celtics are keeping the pressure on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics have won six straight in the series. He was outstanding Saturday night during a spot start in place of an under-the-weather Amir Johnson. The Hornets were without F Johnny O'Bryant (ankle) and G Marco Belinelli (finger).

Celtics Coach Brad Stevens called it a "good-bad-good" night. The Cavaliers (51-28) have road games remaining against Atlanta and Miami before closing at home against Toronto.

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Hornets: Walker has scored the second-most points in franchise history this season, behind only Glen Rice. He scored 32 points Saturday and came into the game averaging 29.1, just a fraction below Larry Bird's franchise record of 29.9 in 1987-88. The Celtics will return home to face Brooklyn on Monday and then will close out the regular season at home against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

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