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Taco Jay leads to Tacko Time: 10 Takeaways from Celtics/Hornets

Jayson Tatum scored 22 of his career-high 39 points in the fourth quarter

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

1. It would be disingenuous to bury the lede here…Jayson Tatum was awesome. He scored a career-high 39 points on 15-of-29 from the field. Tatum was having a merely good game before he took over in the fourth quarter. He scored 22 points on 9-of-13 from the field in the final frame, while also pulling down five rebounds.

All game long, Tatum scored in a variety of ways. He started with this nice drive to the rim, where he had the patience to stop, fake and then finish strong:

He used his size to hit a fade-away over the smaller defender:

He used his skill for a tricky finish off the wrong foot:

And then he used his size/skill/athleticism combo to catch and finish all one motion:

Those shots were all mixed in around the usual array of jumpers that were barely moving the net as they splashed through.

And it wasn’t just with his scoring that Tatum made an impact. He grabbed 12 rebounds for the first 30/10 game of his career. He also blocked three shots, the most impressive was this one on Marvin Williams early in the second quarter:

And Tatum flashed his improve passing eye with this find out of the post to Semi Ojeleye:

2. Boston’s first quarter defense was a mess. A complete and utter mess. Charlotte scored 37 points on 13-of-21 shooting, including 7-for-10 from behind the arc. And almost all of those were wide-open shots. The Celtics looked slow, lazy and disinterested to start the game. From the second quarter on, Boston played the sort of hectic, switching, swarming defense that we’re all used to. The Hornets shot just 32.7% for the final three periods, including 3-of-24 on three-pointers as the Celtics took control of the game and turned it into a blowout.

3. It was another strong game for Enes Kanter off the bench. He grabbed 13 rebounds in 24 minutes, bringing his season averages to 7.3 boards in just 17.2 minutes per game. Kanter’s big night on the boards was part of one of the Boston’s most dominant rebounding advantages in some time, as they held a 57-27 edge on the glass.

Reminder: Kanter may not be available to play in the Celtics next game on Christmas day at the Toronto Raptors. Due to his complicated status with the Turkish government, Kanter has not traveled outside of the United States over the last couple of years. Don’t be surprised if he stays home in Boston out of well-founded fears for his personal safety.

4. Javonte Green has made the most of his increased playing time with Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart out of the lineup. Green is always doing something, and at least once per game makes a play so athletic that you say “Whoa!” This looks like a layup, but Green hammers it home instead:

5. It was a good night of taking care of the ball for Boston. They had 25 assists on 46 baskets, and only turned it over 13 times (one of which was a team turnover as they let the shot clock expire late in the game). After a few games of carelessness with the ball, it was good to see the Celtics clean that up.

6. It could be easy to get lost in Tatum’s big night, but it was a good game for the rookies too. Romeo Langford got it going with eight points off the bench. He went to the glass hard for this finish inside:

And Langford dropped in a couple of three-pointers, showing an improved stroke from his time in college:

The best part? Langford didn’t hesitate and let it fly as soon as it hit his hands. Good stuff from the supposed weak part of his game.

7. Speaking of rookies and not hesitating, Grant Williams hit another triple on his way to 12 points for the contest. Three straight games with a three-pointer for Williams after his nightmare start from behind the arc. Williams also made a “grown man” play with this offensive rebound for the And-1:

8. Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker were a bit quieter than Jayson Tatum, but that trio is carrying the scoring load for Boston in a big way. Walker scored 23, while Brown added 16. And most of that came in the first three quarters, as Tatum did the bulk of the work in the fourth. That sort of balanced scoring should bode well when reinforcements arrive in the form of Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, presumably sooner, rather than later.

9. Brown put the capper on the game for the starters by getting way up for this alley-oop finish:

10. Taco Jay made sure the fans in Boston got Tacko Time again the fourth quarter. And when Tacko Fall hit the floor, he delivered once again. There just isn’t much any NBA player can do when a guy as big as Fall catches this close to the rim. Just throw it up there and let the big fella do the rest:

Again, while these minutes are fun for everyone, Fall might be asked to play real minutes as soon as the Raptors game. If Kanter is unavailable, that leaves Boston really short up front. That might deliver a present of Tacko Time on Christmas day.

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