CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Celtics guard Terry Rozier has had a strong start for the Hornets, entering Thursday’s matchup against Boston averaging 16.9 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game.
“I’m just trying to get better with my guys, connecting with the coach, see what we can do to keep improving,” Rozier said. “It’s a long season, so as far as myself, just trying to take care of my body and prepare for these minutes I’ll be playing this whole season.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens, for one, said Rozier’s strong play should be expected.
“I mean, he was doing that for us, that’s not a surprise,” he said. “When he started for us, it was very similar. Terry’s a really good player. He’s really tough.
“I always say this: He’s a battler. He’s always going to fight. I’ve always appreciated Terry.”
Rozier said he visited with some of his former Celtics teammates after they arrived Wednesday.
“I keep up all the time,” he said. “I’ve been there for four years. It’s still a part of me. I just keep up with the guys, make sure everybody’s doing good. Brad, all the other coaches and stuff like that. That’s still one of my homes.”
When Celtics guard Kemba Walker arrived at the Spectrum Center for morning shootaround Thursday, he could not go more than a few steps without crossing paths with a familiar face, and each time he stopped for a hug or a handshake.
Walker spent the first eight years of his NBA career with the Hornets, and this was his first game back as a member of the visiting team.
“It’s weird,” Walker said. “Being here yesterday, I went home, and it didn’t feel real. It just felt kind of surreal. It felt like the summertime, or something like that.
“When I was here, I always thought about what it would feel if I ever came back. I never thought it would happen, but now that it’s here, it’s just, yeah, it’s weird.
“Being in that [visitors] locker room now, we’d only go in there when we got random drug tests. So it’s weird, no doubt, being here right now.”
Walker kept a home in Charlotte, and several old friends and family members still live in the city, and he said it will always have a special place in his heart.
“I’ve done plenty of good things here, not even basketball,” he said. “It’s bigger than basketball, just around the community, with the fans, I’ve always interacted with the fans, I’ve always signed autographs, I’ve always taken pictures, and I was always nice to everybody.”
Hornets forward Marvin Williams, who played with Walker for five years, said Walker’s absence is felt in Charlotte.
“Just to have him kind of in your corner as a person is I think what we miss the most, what I miss the most I think in the locker room as well,” he said. “Obviously he’s a great player, All-NBA, one of the best point guards in the NBA.”
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said he went to the hospital multiple times to receive treatment for an infection that caused him to miss the team’s last three games.
“I definitely spent a lot of time there,” Brown said. “Had to keep going back and forth, back and forth to the hospital. I’m better now, feel good, feel confident, had some good work the last two days, some conditioning, things like that. I don’t have any restrictions.”
Brown said the infection formed an abscess that needed to be drained and he took antibiotics, but that he completed tests recently that indicated he was able to return to the court. He expected to play against Charlotte.