Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night to lead the Celtics to their 14th consecutive victory, a 94-82 win over their former teammate and the New Orleans Hornets.
"We will always be forever linked with him," Garnett said of Posey, who was the leader of the Celtics bench when they won their NBA-record 17th title in 2007-08 before signing with New Orleans in the offseason. "It's a business, and once the ball is jumped, then that's what it is until summertime."
Chris Paul had 20 points and 14 assists for the Hornets, while David West had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Posey scored seven points with seven rebounds and a steal while committing five fouls and contributing to a defense that forced the Celtics into 17 turnovers that led to 25 points.
"He's up to those same tricks," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Last year, I loved what he did, setting flops, charges, grabbing, holding, getting away with hitting on the arm. Today I think I complained about Posey the entire game. He's a pain in the butt; he really is. Now I know why I loved him on our team."
The Celtics held a brief ceremony before the game to award Posey with the championship ring he won with Boston last season. Posey got a big cheer from the crowd, hugs from his former teammates and a tribute from Rivers, who dropped his pregame game face to call Posey a "special player, special person."
Citing the team's motto of "ubuntu," a phrase favored by Archbishop Desmond Tutu that translates roughly to "I am because we are," Rivers said, "We couldn't be all we could be unless James Posey was all he could be."
The Hornets, who were within one win of the Western Conference finals last season, left Boston with the knowledge that they don't yet measure up to the league's elite.
"Pose is a big loss, I'm glad we've got him. But we felt like we could have got this one," Paul said. "I'll tell you right now that I'm not about any moral victory. We played hard. You win or you lose, and we lost."
New Orleans was without center Tyson Chandler because he showed up at the morning shootaround with a stiff neck. Hilton Armstrong started, playing 25 minutes and scoring eight points on 3-for-9 shooting with four rebounds.
"If we had one more guy tonight that would have been able to step up, then we would have had a better opportunity," coach Byron Scott said. "We missed him big time tonight."
The defending champs took the lead with a 17-4 run early in the third quarter and never trailed again while improving to a league-best 22-2 this season. The winning streak is the team's longest since it won a franchise-record 18 in a row in 1981-82.
"It all goes out the window if we don't win the championship," Pierce said.
The Celtics, playing for the second consecutive night after arriving from Washington early Friday morning, fell behind by eight points in the first quarter, went ahead by six in the second and increased it to 11 in the third. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, New Orleans cut it to 89-82 before the Celtics put it away, thanks in part to an alley-oop from Ray Allen to Garnett that made it an 11-point game with 1:43 left.
The Celtics had 11 turnovers in the first half that led to 21 of the Hornets' 40 points. ... The Celtics have won 32 of their last 34 home games, including playoffs. ... Paul reached double digits in assists for the 16th time in 19 games. ... It was the first time in 63 games that Peja Stojakovic did not make a 3-pointer. He went 0-for-2 from beyond the arc and had just two points.
Ja Morant's 28-point effort leads Grizzlies to win vs. Clippers
Ja Morant scores 28 points in the Grizzlies' 120-114 win vs. the Clippers.
Morant scores 28, leads Grizz to 120-114 win over Clippers
— Ja Morant led five starters in double figures with 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 in their home opener Saturday night.
Ja Morant glides in for layup vs. Clippers
Ja Morant drains shot vs LA Clippers