An ugly start to the game wasn’t enough to dissuade the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. They fought back after being down by as many as 16 points, earning a 122-106 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. With the win, the Celtics move to 32-12 on the season.
Both sides were on fire on the offensive end in the first quarter, posting impressive shooting splits. And though the second period was a back-and-forth battle, the two sides were on par with one another at halftime. While the Celtics decided to treat the game like a three-point shootout (31 first-half three-point attempts), the Hornets were focused on getting into the paint (36 first-half points in the paint).
The second quarter saw the Hornets jump out to a 58-42 lead with just under six minutes to go in the frame. Charlotte’s play was so dominant that Joe Mazzulla, who is known for his stingy timeout usage, was forced to call two timeouts in a span of three minutes.
However, a few hustle plays by Robert Williams (six points, 12 rebounds) and an uptick in defensive intensity allowed the Celtics to battle back. By the time the third quarter rolled around, they were back within striking distance and had cut the Hornets’ lead to just four points at halftime.
And then Jayson Tatum took over. With Jaylen Brown sidelined, it was up to Tatum to carry the load, and he did just that in the third quarter. After shooting just 4-for-13 in the first half (14 points), he exploded in the third, dropping 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He played the entire period and helped Boston establish control of the game. The superstar ended the night with 33 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
Malcolm Brogdon also played a crucial role in Boston’s win, scoring a season-high 30 points off the bench and adding two boards and three assists to go along with them. Brown’s absence meant he was thrust into a larger scoring role, and when Tatum was off the floor, Boston turned to him as the primary offensive initiator.
No sweat for Malcolm Brogdon pic.twitter.com/FGIk1IwnnR— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 15, 2023
Marcus Smart (13 points, 12 assists), Al Horford (16 points, eight rebounds, six assists), and Payton Pritchard (nine points) also played important roles in Boston’s comeback win. Meanwhile, Derrick White got off to a hot start, scoring eight points in just over four minutes of action before having his night cut short.
White left the game early in the first quarter after colliding with Smart, causing his head to jerk to one side. He went down in a heap before leaving the game under his own power. According to reporting from Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics diagnosed White with a neck sprain and noted that he would not return to the game.
For Charlotte, it was LaMelo Ball who led the way, putting up 31 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists on 11-of-27 shooting. Former Celtic Terry Rozier also chipped in with 21, while PJ Washington rounded out Charlotte’s top scorers with 14 points.
The Celtics cruised through the fourth quarter after asserting their dominance in the third. They avoided another disappointing loss and extended their current win streak to six games.
Boston will remain in Charlotte over the next few days, as they will play the Hornets once again on Monday afternoon in a league-wide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That game is set to tip off at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Boston.