The Celtics were down double digits early to a young, up-and-coming Hornets team and in desperate need of a boost. Jabari Parker provided that boost, dropping 11 points in five and a half minutes en route to his best performance as a Celtic this season.
Without Al Horford, head coach Ime Udoka felt Parker matched up well against the Hornets. “They [Charlotte] don’t have a lot of bigs, you know Plumlee is mainly their one guy,” Udoka said. “We knew they would come off the bench with [Jalen] McDaniels and the kid, [Nick] Richards. We felt good about that matchup offensively and defensively.”
The exclamation point on his instant offense came against McDaniels on this poster dunk in transition.
It was the first time Parker saw the floor this season for Boston, after he was released and then re-signed on October 19th.
Parker’s 11 first quarter points helped close the gap, tying the game at 33 after a slow start for the Celtics. After he checked out, the offense picked right back up and eventually, Boston was able to out-gun the Hornets and snatch away the game in overtime, 140-129.
Uncharacteristically for Parker, most of his offense came from the deep ball. His three 3-pointers, which all came in the first quarter, tied his career-high for threes made in a single game.
Those threes, while atypical, weren’t lucky. The first two were catch-and-shoot from almost an identical spot with a defender closing out. The third three was a tough shot off the dribble, a true heat check.
In the second quarter, Parker made an impactful defensive play, blocking Miles Bridges on an iso drive to the rim. Staying in front of the dynamic Bridges, and staying disciplined is a great sign for Parker, since defense is not his calling card.
Parker definitely wasn’t this impressive on defense all night. There were a few moments where he either overcommitted or was exposed by a quicker athlete, but since he’s not a great defender, any sign of defensive prowess is encouraging.
“We know Jabari is instant offense,” Udoka said postgame. “I told him before the game when we found out about Al, ‘be ready.’ He was prepared and ready and came out in attack mode as always.”
Parker finished with 13 points, five rebounds and one block in 17 minutes. It was one of his best performances in green, and without his offensive outburst in the first quarter, Boston would have needed even more than 41 from Jayson Tatum and 30 from Jaylen Brown to win.