Saturday, February 11, 2023

Celtics 127, Hornets 116: Jayson Tatum, Derrick White combine for 74 points in second straight win

The Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 127-116 Friday night at TD Garden, despite being shorthanded once again.

Jayson Tatum bounced back from his 12-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, to finish with 41 points on 13-of-21 from the field -- including 5-of-10 from deep and six assists. Derrick White started in place of Marcus Smart (ankle sprain) for the ninth straight game to score a career-high 33 points, while hitting 8-of-14 from behind the arc and 10 assists.
"When you're in the zone it feels good and you just try to hit every shot," White said in his postgame presser after knocking down his first eight shots to go 13-of-21.
Boston was also without Jaylen Brown (facial contusion) and Al Horford (knee), as Sam Hauser was 4-of-9 from behind the arc to record 12 points in another starting role and newcomer Mike Muscala made his debut -- connecting on 4-of-8 from 3 to also chip in 12 points off the bench.

Terry Rozier had 27 points, Lonzo Ball added 24 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists to lead Charlotte. P.J. Washington scored 17 points and Mark Williams notched 11 points, 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who dropped to 15-42.

The Celtics never trailed once, jumping out to a 71-53 advantage by halftime, before taking a 97-81 (the largest margin of the night) into the final frame.

Charlotte used a 15-3 run to start the fourth to cut the deficit from 28 down to 14, which led to Tatum checking back in with 7:03 left to play -- scoring 13 of Boston's final 19 points to get their 40th victory and sweep the season series with the Hornets 4-0.
"You understand in the course of a game leads are never safe, regardless of a team's record they're always capable of making plays and knocking down shots," Tatum said during his postgame comments. "I seen earlier Brad [Stevens] told you guys he was making me sit out next week. So I'll get some rest then."
Tatum has now reached the 40-point mark this season eight times with 26 games remaining, despite playing 37 minutes against a team with one of the league's worst records.

In the meantime, the Celtics (40-16) will host the Memphis Grizzlies (34-21) on Super Bowl Sunday. ABC has the tip-off at 2:00 PM ET matinee.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 49.4% of their field goal attempts, including 25-of-55 (45.5%) from 3-point territory, while the Hornets were 48.4% from the floor and 8-of-23 (34.8%) from long-distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 47-43 and outscored in the paint 48-34. The C's had 34 assists on 44 baskets to the visiting team's 26 dimes on 45 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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