Saturday, April 13, 2024

Celtics 131, Hornets 98: Payton Pritchard scored a career-high 31 points, as C's rest starters vs Charlotte

The Celtics will finish the regular season without having lost three in a row, as they beat the Charlotte Hornets 131-98 Friday night at TD Garden.

With the starting five of, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Krisptaps Porzingis, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, and even Al Horford taking the day off -- Payton Pritchard notched a career-high 31 points on 14-of-22 shooting to go along with a game-high 11 assists to lead the C's and snap a two-game skid while avoid losing three straight in a season for the first time since 2010-11.

Pritchard continues to prove his worth and with the playoffs in sight, coach Joe Mazzulla is pleased with how the young veteran point guard has grown into his role this year.
"Just being a complete player from the standpoint of every game is going to be different," Mazzulla said. "He affects the game in many different ways. Obviously, having a consistent role for an entire season is really beneficial."
Boston has one game remaining and most likely will sit their starters again to close out the regular season, giving Pritchard the opportunity to not only make another start, but be the only Celtic to play all 82 games this season -- which would also mark the first time he's done that in his four-year career.
"It's definitely a big accomplishment for me," Pritchard said in his postgame presser. "To play 82 games is tough, but through the summer, the work that I put in to get my body ready for that [helped'. But also just the journey of me, last year, my second year, of times when I didn't play at all, how frustrating that is and how much that hurt at times. But that just fueled me to keep working."
Luke Kornet recorded 16 points on 7-of-10 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Sam Hauser and Neemias Queta (six rebounds, five assists) -- who just signed a multi-year standard NBA contract earlier this week, each dropped 16 points respectively to help improve the C's to 63-18.

Tre Mann finished with 19 points, eight assists and Nick Smith Jr. chipped in 15 points off the bench for the Hornets, who fell to 20-61 on the season and were without Grant Williams -- who made his return to Boston since being moved in a sign and trade over the summer.

Charlotte was outscored 39-19 in the second quarter, as they trailed 69-43 at the break, before the Celtics were ahead by as many as 35 in the second half in a pretty much wire-to-wire victory.

Boston will host the Washington Wizards (15-66) in their regular season finale Sunday afternoon in a 1:00 pm ET matinee tip-off.

Game Notes:

The Celtics shot 51.9% from the field, including going 14-of-14 (34.1%) from deep, while Charlotte was 42.1% from the floor and 15-of-35 (42.9%) from 3-point range. The C's won the rebound battle 53-33 and outscored the visiting team in the paint 60-26. The Celtics also dished out 34 assists (six turnovers) on 54 baskets to the Hornets 20 dimes (20 turnovers) on 32 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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