The Celtics preseason opener marked the debut of Kemba Walker at the TD Garden but it was the C’s rookies that stole the show in the second half of a 107-106 victory over the Hornets. Carsen Edwards (11 points) and Javonte Green (15 points) keyed a double-digit second half comeback for the hosts that saw underwhelming play from the starters in the first three quarters, particularly on the defensive end. Robert Williams received a surprise start at center in the opener but played just 10 minutes after struggling with his discipline on the defensive end.
Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 20 points while Walked added 12 points and four assists in limited action. While Boston’s new-look frontcourt showed plenty of leaks on the interior early on between Enes Kanter and Robert Williams, it was the play of Boston’s rookies that finished off the night on a high note. On top of standout play by Edwards and potential 15th man candidate Green, Grant Williams delivered a strong debut with a team-high eight rebounds in 17 minutes. Tacko Fall also delighted the garden crowd with five points and a pair of blocks in the fourth quarter after being chanted for several times over the course of the night.
Terry Rozier looked sharp in his return to the Garden as a visitor after receiving a positive ovation from the Garden crowd. He posted nine points and a game-high nine assists in 22 minutes of action as Charlotte’s regulars soundly outplayed Boston through the opening three quarters before the rookie rally.
The C’s will get a few days to work out the kinks before facing off with the Magic in preseason game No. 2 on Friday night.