A few minutes after that, during pregame introductions, the Hornets showed a tribute video for her son, and there was a standing ovation, and Kemba said he choked up a bit.
"I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn't". It's special and it definitely obviously made me really emotional.
For the Celtics, the only uneasy moment of the night unfolded when there was a rare - if brief - confrontation involving Stevens and guard Marcus Smart.
Smart appeared to be growing increasingly frustrated with Charlotte's physical play and the resulting officiating as the game rolled on.
Smart found himself in foul trouble midway through the third quarter when he was hit with his fourth and fifth fouls on consecutive possessions. "A lot of the calls that they called, I didn't understand where the fouls were". He said later that he was frustrated with the calls that were going against him, and that he wanted to feel like someone was on his side.
"At some point, you've got to step in and say something as a coach", Smart said. "And it just seems like whenever I get the ball and I'm on offense, I can't get a call, so with the Bridges push and stuff like that, I told them, 'If it was me, y'all would probably throw me out the game and everything".
"Nobody else is going to protect yourself".
The two smoothed it over soon after that, though, and Stevens was not concerned about it.
"I don't back down from any challenge", Smart said. "But this is the part about Marcus that I love, right?" His fire, his competitiveness.
Smart, who has spent his entire career in Boston since being drafted sixth overall by the team in 2014, brushed off the back-and-forth with Stevens as one of their "little moments" and said that once it's over, "we go on to the next one". "It's done with, and we move on to the next one".
"We've been together a long time" Stevens said. I've been yelled at before and that's OK. "I love him and I trust him, and he'll get every opportunity". After falling behind, 7-2, they quickly pushed in front and never trailed again. Their lead swelled to 14 points in the first half, and after the Hornets closed within 41-37, the Celtics created distance with a swift 11-0 run.
In the second quarter, Charlotte began making shots and cut Boston's lead to 4 points.
While it was a comfortable and satisfying return for Walker, it was a forgettable night for his replacement in Charlotte, Terry Rozier. It was a disaster: 3 points on 1-11 shooting with 4 turnovers.