With Jaylen Brown sidelined and Derrick White out after suffering a neck sprain from a collision with Marcus Smart in the first quarter, the Boston Celtics were left short-staffed against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite that, they managed to mount an impressive first-half comeback and cruise to a comfortable victory.
Jayson Tatum’s 17-point third quarter helped spearhead the win, but they wouldn’t have been able to keep up without the efforts of Malcolm Brogdon. The veteran guard was Tatum’s second-in-command off the bench, and after the game, the Celtics superstar gave him his flowers.
“That’s why we got him,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston. “And you know, we always talk about sacrifice, and [him] coming off the bench, that’s what’s best for the team on those given nights. And he accepts it, and he still comes in [and is the version of] himself that we need him to be. I think that’s just what makes our team so special. We got guys like that that are sacrificing. But you know, we got guys out, and they step up even more and, you know, have big nights like this.”
"I think that's what makes our team so special."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 15, 2023
Jayson Tatum on Malcolm Brogdon coming off the bench and dropping 30 points pic.twitter.com/VWhXi36RDT
Brogdon ended the night with a season-high 30 points, marking just his second 30-point game since the 2020-21 campaign. He added three rebounds and three assists to his totals as well, shooting 11-of-17 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line.
But Brogdon’s elite play isn’t a newfound phenomenon. He’s been incredible over the course of Boston’s current six-game win streak. Brogdon is averaging 19.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game on 57.1% shooting from the field and 58.6% shooting from distance.
He credited Marcus Smart’s playstyle and Tatum’s scoring as the main reasons why he was able to be so effective in the 122-106 win over Charlotte.
“I really was just trying to go with the flow of the game, to be honest,” Brogdon told NBC Sports Boston. “I knew that I would have to take more shots, but I wasn’t, I purposely was not trying to force. I was just trying to get good shots and play in the rhythm of the offense. You know, it worked. My teammates got me open. Smarty really plays the right way every night. And that, his facilitation, opens [it] up for all of us. And then JT’s shot-making, of course, has a huge impact.”
"I knew I would have to take more shots, but I purposely was not trying to force it."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 15, 2023
Malcolm Brogdon talks 'next man up mentality' and his season-high 30 points vs. Hornets pic.twitter.com/10SWtOHAHh
Smart finished the game with a 13-point, 12-assist double-double, while Tatum ended with a team-high 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. Of his eleven made field goals, seven were assisted. Two of those assists were from Smart, another two were from Al Horford, and Robert Williams, Payton Pritchard, and Grant Williams each chipped in one apiece.
Brogdon was able to play perfectly within the flow of the offense while simultaneously mixing in the shot creation and scoring Boston was missing with Brown and White out. He scored 10 of his 30 points in the 11:06 of court time when Tatum was off the floor.
Head coach Joe Mazzulla not only praised Brogdon’s performance against the Hornets, but he also complimented his attitude so far this season.
“I thought Malcolm was great tonight,” Mazzulla told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s a guy that is adjusting to playing on our team. And he shows tremendous humility and patience, and tonight was big for him. He really helped our team, he was really selfless, and I’m happy for him.”
Joe Mazzulla gives injury update on Derrick White, and how Malcolm Brogdon stepped up in his absence ☘️ pic.twitter.com/TjR14gnPk3— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 15, 2023
When the Celtics traded for Brogdon this past offseason, it was made clear that he would be joining the team in a sixth-man role - a role he had not played since his sophomore season in the NBA. Throughout his time with the Indiana Pacers, he was always a primary scoring option, and now, he’s not.
“I think it’s just his team’s depth, man,” Brogdon told NBC Sports Boston. “We got a lot of good players on this team. It’s a ‘next man up’ mentality when someone goes down. So I think that’s what we’ve been experiencing when JB has been out, when I’ve been out, when, you know, whoever’s out, someone else steps up.”
Throughout the course of this year, he’s accepted the role with a sense of grace and professionalism. He’s embracing his role with the team, and in turn, so is the rest of the squad.