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Without Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets head to Boston

Apr 2, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the ball while Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) defends in the second quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the ball while Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) defends in the second quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics continue a seven-game homestand Sunday when they welcome the Charlotte Hornets for the first of three matchups between the teams in April.

On Friday, Boston rebounded from back-to-back losses to Dallas and New Orleans to open the homestand with a 118-102 win over struggling Houston.

Four Celtics scored at least 20 points in the win, including Evan Fournier with 23 points on a career-best 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range.

Fournier, acquired in a trade from Orlando for draft picks, finished scoreless and with six points in his first two outings with Boston.

“That first game was not the way I wanted to start with the Celtics, but it’s not going to define who I am with this team,” Fournier said in his postgame press conference. “I’m going to try to impact winning as much as I can and I’m really happy about the win tonight. Moving forward I’m going to try as hard as I can and help the guys.”

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Fournier averaged 19.7 points per game in his 26 games with Orlando this season.

Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 25.3 points per game, posted 26 on Friday. Jaylen Brown added 22 points, and Robert Williams — starting at center since Daniel Theis was traded to Chicago for Moritz Wagner — approached a triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Coupled with his 9-for-9 shooting from the floor, Williams became just the third center in NBA history to have a perfect field-goal percentage on a minimum 20/8/8 performance, joining Nikola Jokic and Wilt Chamberlain.

“Rob is special. I love playing with him,” Tatum said in his postgame press conference. “He’s an underrated passer. I think that’s one of the best things he does.”

Since moving into the starting lineup on March 26, Williams is averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game.

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Charlotte (25-23) comes into Boston in fourth place in the Eastern Conference through games played Friday, which include Charlotte’s 114-97 win over Indiana.

Although the Celtics (24-25) are four spots behind the Hornets in eighth place, just 1.5 games separate them in a contentious conference race.

Charlotte has won five of their past seven games overall, including two of three on its current, six-game road swing, since rookie LaMelo Ball fractured his wrist.

Former Celtic Terry Rozier is averaging 20 points per game over the past 10 contests but has averaged 13.5 points in his past two games after scoring 15 against the Pacers.

Miles Bridges came off the bench Friday to score a season-high 23 points and grab 10 rebounds, while another former Celtic — Gordon Hayward — went for 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists before spraining his right ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Hayward, who is second on the team in scoring at 19.6 points per game in addition to averaging 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, will be re-evaluated in four weeks, according to the team.

Seven Hornets scored in double figures on Friday, including Bridges, Cody Zeller and Brad Wanamaker off the bench. In light of injuries to Ball and Malik Monk (ankle), Charlotte coach James Borrego praised the balanced offense and bench production in his postgame press conference.

“This is what our season has been about,” Borrego said. “We’re built for this.”

–Field Level Media