The Boston Celtics grabbed a nice comeback win on the road Saturday night, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 122-106 behind big nights from Jayson Tatum and Malcolm Brogdon. Boston improves to 31-12 on the season, and now rides a six-game win streak into Monday’s rematch against Charlotte.
The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown, and Derrick White left the game early with an injury. As such, the visiting team looked a bit discombobulated early on, allowing Charlotte to grab a 16-point lead by the second quarter.
Fast forward to the middle of the third quarter, however, and the Celtics had taken the lead. Jayson Tatum was at the helm per usual, scoring 17 in the third quarter alone. He finished with 33 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Boston also got important contributions from Al Hoford and Payton Pritchard. Malcolm Brogdon was especially good, ending the night with 30 points and 3 assists.
This was the first of two games Boston was slated to play in Charlotte this weekend. The Celtics will play the Hornets again Monday afternoon as part of the NBA’s MLK Day showcase. Here’s what you missed from Saturday’s action.
The Hornets honored Bill Russell’s mid-game
Regular season games against lottery teams are only so meaningful. At the risk of sounding reductive, it is only January after all. A small ceremony held by Charlotte may have been the most important story on the night.
After the first quarter the Hornets unveiled a banner honoring the late great Bill Russell to be hung at the Spectrum Center. Russell’s No. 6 was officially retired by the league prior to the season, but Charlotte went a little bit further in honoring his legacy.
“Bill Russell was a pioneer,” Hornets owner Michael Jordan said after his passing this summer. “As a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first Black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend.”
Health may be something to monitor
The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown. He’ll miss the next few games with an ailing groin. Jayson Tatum’s hand has been bothering him. He’s nursing multiple injuries at the moment. Derrick White left the game early with a neck sprain.
At the time of this writing, there’s no update on White, though neck injuries usually demand a conservative approach. Brown will hopefully be back for Boston’s home game against the Golden State Warriors this Thursday, but that remains to be seen.
Jayson Tatum’s hand injuries are also worth closely monitoring. Now his wrist, thumb, and finger are all not quite right. (Tatum did have a monster night injuries notwithstanding.)
Once again the supporting cast played a pivotal role
Jayson Tatum may have stuffed the stat sheet, but he wasn’t dominating wire to wire. He had moments where he looked visibly uncomfortable, perhaps because of his aforementioned hand injuries.
That Boston’s role players stepped up to erase a big deficit is worth celebrating.
Brogdon finished as the team’s second leading scorer and was a key stabilizing force for the offense throughout the game. Pritchard provided a key spark off the bench, chipping in 9 points along the way. Al Horford was excellent with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Perhaps the Celtics have no business being down so much to a team like the Hornets to begin with. All the same, seeing the supporting cast take the reins is an important outcome. Brown is set to miss the next few games, and Tatum could decide his hand needs more attention.
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