Jayson Tatum shot 65 percent en route to a season high 51 points, 18 of which came in the 4th quarter, and the Celtics escaped with a 130-118 victory. The team shot 47 percent from three, converted on 24/25 of their free throws, while collecting 34 assists and 14 offensive rebounds. Derrick White added 19 points and 8 assists while Robert Williams shot over 60 percent from the field in his 61st straight game (the record is 64, shouts to NBC Sports Boston for the stat).
Jaylen McDaniels led Charlotte with 26 points on 9/15 shooting. Mason Plumlee had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Lamelo Ball added 25 points and 6 assists. The Hornets cut it to a one possession game in the 4th quarter but Tatum was too much to handle.
Everything about this matchup screamed “trap game.” Between the 1:00 start, the Saturday night win against this same Charlotte team, and the two days off before Thursday night’s finals rematch versus Golden State, it looked the Celtics could let their guard down. Fortunately for Boston, they have a leading MVP candidate. There have been talks of Tatum not being an All Star starter, that Giannis and KD are more deserving, but this game should certainly squash that scenario.
Marcus Smart got the scoring started immediately, converting on this alley oop from White just 10 seconds into the game:
Starting the game off with a bang pic.twitter.com/2UkEomoVzC— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 16, 2023
Other than this play, there weren’t too many highlights from this low-energy 1st quarter, as is typical with these 1:00 starts. Lamelo hit a 30 footer to tie the score at 19 at the 4:18 mark, but the Celtics answered with a 16-3 to close the quarter and led 35-22.
Tatum did whatever he wanted and led the way with 11 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Brogdon and White each went 2/2 from three. The Celtics assisted on 12 of their 13 first-quarter field goals while holding the Hornets to 28 percent shooting. Without Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre, Charlotte was relying on unknown players like JT Thor and Bryce McGowens.
After the Celtics went up 17, McDaniels hit two straight threes, then got a halfcourt steal and finished the contested layup, cutting the score to 56-46. A Terry Rozier three at the two minute mark cut it to 59-53. Tatum earned two straight trips to the free throw line and the Celtics led 66-55 at half.
Tatum had 20 points on 6/10 shooting, Brogdon had 16 on 6/8 shooting, and white added 12 points with 4 assists. Grant Williams didn’t score, but he was +14 in his 11 minutes on the floor with 6 assists. On Saturday, the Hornets were 18/26 in the paint during the first half, but today the Celtics held them to 9/26. McDaniels and PJ Washington were their top scorers with 18 and 10 respectively.
The teams went on alternating runs throughout the 3rd quarter. The Hornets scored on their first three possessions then the Celtics responded with a pair of Robert Williams alley oops and threes from Horford and Tatum. Mason Plumlee then scored seven straight points, and when he was in the rare position of being the transition ball handler, he found McDaniels for the cutting dunk. The Celtics went on a 9-1 run, the Hornets responded with a 10-0 run, and Boston led 92-86 going into the 4th quarter.
Grant opened the period swishing a three off a Brogdon assist, then Lamelo responded with an insane stepback three in the face of Grant’s tough defense. Peyton Pritchard fouled McDaniels on a three-point attempt, who then hit each free throws and cut the score to 98-96 with 9:33 remaining. A few minutes later, the Celtics got two consecutive offensive rebounds and White converted on the floating bank shot, giving Boston a 109-101 lead.
It looked like the Celtics regained control over the game, but a Smart turnover at the four minute mark led to a Rozier transition and-1 to make the score 115-110. The Hornets weren’t going down easy, but Tatum was too much to handle, hitting three 3’s in the final two minutes, as the Celtics won 130-118.
Boston improves to 33-12 and they have two days off before hosting the Golden State Warriors this Thursday at 7:30.