Celtics-Hornets takeaways: C’s extend win streak but lose White to injury originally appeared on NBC SportsBoston
Despite losing another key player to injury and trailing by as many as 16 points, the Celtics kept their winning streak alive on Saturday night.
Thanks to 33 points from Jayson Tatum and 30 from Malcolm Brogdon, Boston rallied for a 122-106 win over the lowly Hornets at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. The victory extended the C’s win streak to six and gave them an NBA-high 15 road wins. They are now a league-best 32-12 on the season.
The Hornets dropped to an Eastern Conference-worst 11-33 with the loss. LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Ex-Celtic Terry Rozier added 21 points.
The C’s will remain in Charlotte and face the Hornets again on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It will be a Monday matinee with tipoff set for 1 pm ET.
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s latest win.
Already down Jaylen Brown, the Celtics were dealt another injury blow. In the game’s opening minutes, Derrick White went down after being inadvertently hit in the head by Marcus Smart.
White remained on the ground for a few minutes before going to the locker room. He was later ruled out with a neck sprain.
The sixth-year pro made a pair of triples and scored eight of Boston’s first 11 points prior to the injury. He was starting in the place of Brown, who he was sidelined for a second straight game with right adductor tightness.
C’s grab momentum with run to end first half
Joe Mazzulla called his second timeout in just over a two-minute span at the 6:23 mark of the second quarter with the C’s trailing 56-42. It looked like it was going to be a long night defensively as Charlotte was scoring with relative ease, doing most of its damage from inside the paint.
But an improved defensive effort from Boston keyed a game-changing run to close the half. After the Hornets stretched their advantage to 58-42 at the 5:20 mark, the Celtics closed the half on a 20-8 run to cut the deficit to four.
Boston then carried that momentum into the second half, winning the third quarter 33-19 to seize control of the game.
Sharing is caring
The Celtics are among the league leaders in assist percentage, and it was that unselfish brand of basketball that powered their offensive success against Charlotte.
Boston racked up an impressive 35 assists on 47 made field goals. Smart led the way with 12 assists, while Tatum and Al Horford each added six.
The C’s shot 47.5% from the field (47 of 99) and 35.8% from 3-point range (19 of 53). They were 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
Malcolm Brogdon provides scoring boosts
The Celtics needed someone to step up scoring-wise with Brown sidelined and White in the locker room. Enter Malcolm Brogdon.
The veteran guard delivered big-time for Boston, pouring in a season-high 30 points. Brogdon scored 14 in the first half and then provided 14 of Boston’s first 21 points in the fourth quarter to help put the game out of reach.
He finished 11-for-17 from the floor, 4-for-6 from deep and 4-for-4 from the line, chipping in three assists, three rebounds and one steal as well.
Jayson Tatum rebounds from rough start
Tatum’s shooting woes from the win over Brooklyn carried over into Saturday’s game. After shooting 7-for-22 overall against the Nets, the three-time All-Star missed six of seven shots, including four 3s, in the first quarter. He also picked up a technical foul for complaining about a no-call.
But Tatum shook off his struggles, hitting four of 10 3-pointers and 11 of 20 shots overall after the slow start. He was at his best in the third quarter, where he tallied 17 points on 3-for-6 shooting from deep and 7-for-12 overall.
In addition to his game-high 33 points, Tatum also had nine rebounds, six assists and one block. He committed just one turnover on a night the C’s only coughed it up seven times.