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Tatum continues scoring tear, Boston pulls away to crush Hornets 115-101

Jayson Tatum continued his scoring ways in the Queen City, scoring 44 points as Boston secured its fourth straight win

NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Three days after scoring 54 against Brooklyn, Jayson Tatum made it clear that he wasn’t finished. The All-Star exploded for another hyper-efficient outing, scoring 44 points and most importantly – securing the Celtics fourth straight win, 115-101 over the Hornets.

Boston improved to 40-27 with the 14-point win, extending their new win streak to four, but midway through the third, Charlotte had a three-point lead.

The Celtics entered Charlotte up 2-1 in the season series. Their only loss came on Jan. 19, when the Hornets won 111-102 in Boston. Since that loss, the Celtics are 16-3. Despite the close season series, the Celtics came into Wednesday’s game a different team.

Aaron Nesmith was the only inactive for Boston, while former Celtic Gordon Hayward joined Jalen McDaniels and James Bouknight on the Hornets’ injury report.

Boston opened the first with a balanced attack. Up 8-6 after 2:30, four Celtics had two points each. Both teams came out in attack mode, but Boston led 12-10 after almost four minutes. Marcus Smart had three assists on the Celtics’ first six baskets, Jaylen Brown had two.

As was the case in the first matchup between these two teams – a 140-129 overtime thriller – the first quarter was filled with points to start. The Hornets started off 3-6 from three to keep pace with Boston, which shot 0-4 from three in the same timespan.

The scoring, which started quick, ground to a halt as both teams began to miss shots and give the ball away. Rob Williams was feasting on the offensive glass early, securing six of Boston’s nine offensive rebounds as the first quarter wound down.

The Celtics had LaMelo Ball’s number early, as the reigning rookie of the year turned the ball over four times in the first quarter. The Celtics led 29-22 after one as Smart dropped in a circus layup. Despite going 0-8 from three in the first, the inside scoring and offensive rebounds kept Boston ahead.

A Hornets scoring drought reached nearly five minutes as the second quarter continued. Boston used that drought to extend their lead further, going on a 6-0 run for a 35-22 lead. Derrick White started the quarter strong, negating a turnover with a steal of his own, leading to an easy two.

Charlotte responded with a 10-3 run of their own, scoring nine unanswered over a 1:15 span, including three from Isaiah Thomas. Payton Pritchard stemmed the bleeding, hitting a three to force a Hornets timeout as Boston led 41-32.

The Celtic offense got stuck in the mud after the first few minutes of the second quarter, while Charlotte had all-wheel drive. After a Terry Rozier layup with six minutes left, the Celtics’ lead shrunk to just two, 41-39.

As both teams traded runs, the first half came to an end with Boston ahead, 52-48. Tatum led all scorers with 16 at halftime, with Charlotte’s PJ Washington not far behind with 15.

The Hornets looked flat to start the second half, so the Celtics capitalized, stretching their lead to eight after three minutes. Eventually, Charlotte woke up and came within one possession. Miles Bridges and Ball scored 11 straight for the Hornets to take a one-point lead.

After a technical was assessed to Tatum, the energy picked up. Both teams began pushing the pace, as Bridges caught fire for the Hornets. Brown scored five straight to reclaim a 69-66 lead.

Smart kept the Celtics ahead, pushing inside for easy baskets while always looking to keep his teammates involved. He had eight assists and 12 points as the third quarter clock dwindled.

Following five straight free throws, the Celtics took an 87-78 lead into the final quarter. Tatum had 28 points with 12 minutes to go, continuing the offensive onslaught he started last week, in which he averaged 41 points per game.

Tatum hit a sidestep three in the corner to reach 30, extending Boston’s lead to 15. Immediately on the next possession, he drained another three in a defender’s face, giving Boston an 18-point lead. The 9-0 run to open the fourth forced James Borrego to call a timeout as the Celtics had the Hornets reeling.

Charlotte tried to hang in, but the Celtics defense and Tatum’s ridiculous shot-making kept Boston on top. After hitting yet another sidestep three with a hand in his face, Tatum had 37 points on 13-20 shooting, 5-8 from three and 6-6 from the free throw line. Boston led 103-88 with seven minutes left on the back of the newly 24-year-old.

After his sixth three, Tatum reached 42 points, just days after scoring 54 against Brooklyn. With tonight’s performance, Tatum scored 30 or more in the fourth straight game. With 44 points, he scored 98 points in his last two games.

For more postgame coverage of the Celtics fourth straight win in Charlotte, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Jayson Tatum’s hot streak and the Celtics’ frenetic defense.