BOSTON, MA — Kemba Walker and Javonte Green flipped Sunday’s game back in Boston’s favor before halftime, before a monstrous second half from Jayson Tatum that led to his career night won the Celtics another game in blowout fashion.
The Tacko Fall chants fell from the rafters again before the third quarter ended, while Terry Rozier’s return and the 2018-19 Celtics have largely dissipated as this year’s team thrives. Sunday marked another big night for Grant Williams and Romeo Langford hit shots in his breakout game off Boston’s bench. Boston’s winning big even without Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward, though Tatum maintains the team can’t wait to reintegrate them.
It could happen as soon as Christmas Day.
Brad Stevens: “I can’t believe it’s not talked about more, how good (Jayson Tatum) is defensively.”
Tatum blocked three shots in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets, a game he flipped from a seven-point deficit to a blowout win rapidly in the third quarter. He posted a career scoring night, which stemmed from rapid development of his finishing issues from earlier this year. Stevens emphasized his defense though, which he said has been great since his arrival.
Kemba Walker: “I could score zero ... as long as we win, that’s all I care about.”
Walker’s had a rough start to the weekend, making zero buckets against the Pistons, then leaped back into thriving in tandem with Tatum. Walker talked about the dynamic of not always scoring with the wings, but contributing to winning, something he’s repeated throughout the season.
Jayson Tatum: “I’ve been focusing a lot this year on trying to match my intensity on offense the same on defense.”
Tatum alluded to his love for players like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, two-way stars, as inspiration for his desire to play great defense. He also discussed the film he watched in response to missing bunnies early in the season, stressing patience to make the right reads and take what the defense is giving him. “It’s a lot of fun, how much talent we have.”
Romeo Langford: “It feels good to be able to play basketball again.”
Langford discussed the comfort he’s feeling around supportive teammates and after adjusting the cock-back on his shot before the season. Multiple injuries delayed his NBA debut until nearly 2020. He drilled 3-of-6 from the field in his second night of action, with Walker finding him on the weak side for a three-pointer. “I try to act like I’ve been there,” Langford said after.
Terry Rozier: “I think I need a bigger sign.”
The Celtics welcomed Rozier back after his offseason departure to Charlotte, an effective swap between him and Walker. Rozier discussed Tacko Fall, called Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown future superstars and praised the crowd’s energy for its ability to empower players in Boston. He shot 6-for-17 with 14 points and four assists in his first regular season game back at TD Garden.