Tuesday, January 30, 2024

What Derrick White was told during his shooting slump: 'Stay confident, keep shooting'

Derrick White couldn't have picked a better time to snap out of a horrid shooting slump, in the Celtics' 118-112 comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.

With Boston trailing by eight at the beginning of the fourth quarter and another missed 3-pointer by White, the veteran guard was a combined 1-of-16 from the field dating back to the blowout loss to the Clippers Saturday and his shooting woes also included going 1-of-10 from deep.
"I mean, obviously, it's been a little bit of a struggle," White said after the game. "So, everybody was just telling me like, 'Stay confident, keep shooting.' And they were just trusting me."
The Celtics would rally behind White's 13 of the team's 18 points in the final seven minutes to pick up the victory against the Pelicans. His game-tying 3-pointer with 6:22 remaining resulted in him throwing his hands up in the air as an obvious sigh of relief.
"Just affirmation," said Joe Mazzulla told reporters regarding his message to a struggling White. "I guess it's tough. It shouldn't be that tough. Because as I told him, 'We support you, we got your back, we need you.'

"So, like, I don't care. As long as you're taking great shots and you're playing on both ends of the floor, just be yourself. And I think that's important. So, I think that the guys said that to him, too."
After an impressive start to the season with career-high shooting numbers, White has dipped down to 38.7% from the floor and 35.7% from behind the arc throughout January.

On Monday, White finished with 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 4-of-10 from long distance, which was a far cry from his 12.8 scoring average over the past 13 outings for the month.
"You just got to go back to the basics," White said of how to break out of a shooting slump. "Stuff that you've been doing your whole life. Me personally, I was just focusing on staying in my shot and getting the arc. So, those are the two things I was trying to focus on most of the game, and I was able to see one go down and go from there."
Still, even with the additions of All-Stars Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, White's confidence has been at an all-time high and that was more than evident in his fourth-quarter 5-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-4 from 3 late-game surge to beat New Orleans.
"We need him and everybody to be aggressive in their own way. Finding their spots. Finding their moments," Jayson Tatum said in his postgame comments. "That's why we have the guys we have on our team. Everybody sacrifices, but you still have to be aggressive. You still have to have an imprint on the game, and when D-White is attacking the basket and putting pressure on the defense, that’s great for us."
The Celtics will need White to keep his mojo going tonight, as the Indiana Pacers come to TD Garden on the front end of a back-to-back. TNT has the tip-off at 7:30 pm ET. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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