The teams traded layups and threes to start what was an evenly matched, offense-laden first quarter that strongly resembled Friday night’s game. The Hornets tried to make life more difficult by sending double teams at Jayson Tatum, but the Celtics were still able to counter with kickouts for 3-point attempts. With Cody Martin out with knee soreness, Bryce McGowens got some first quarter run along with Mark Williams and JT Thor. The young lineup struggled to make shots as the Celtics closed the quarter on a run. After one, the Hornets trailed 35-22.
The offensive struggles continued into the second quarter, but the Hornets did a decent job keep the Celtics at bay on the other end. LaMelo Ball had to check out of the game near the midway point of the quarter with his third foul. Jalen McDaniels entered the game in his place and immediately hit 3-pointers on two straight possessions. He, then PJ Washington, then Terry Rozier scored a few straight points to pull the Hornets to within six points of the Celtics late in the first half. An untimely McDaniels turnover prevented the Hornets from getting any closer, and the Celtics restored their lead to 11 by half.
McDaniels hit a career high fifth 3-pointer to give him 21 points after the first possession of the second half. Five straight points from Ball pulled the Hornets with five, but the Celtics answered with 10 straight points. Mason Plumlee took a turn to get in on the action, but again, a Hornets run was stymied by Jayson Tatum on the other end. The Hornets finished the third quarter with a flurry that was headlined by Rozier and Mark Williams. 10 straight points from the Hornets cut the deficit to six heading into the fourth quarter.
A LaMelo Ball three was surrounded by a bunch of free throws by both teams. Jalen McDaniels hit three of them after being fouled behind the line in a game that was full of those. Those free throws gave him a career high 26 points. Another Ball 3-pointer pulled the Hornets within two, but the Celtics scored six straight in response, including a possession that included two offensive rebounds leading to a Derrick White layup. The Hornets went shot for shot with the Celtics from there, but they had no answer for Jayson Tatum, who finished with 51 points. He hit three straight 3-pointers in the game’s closing minutes to put the game away set the final score.
The Hornets played better than the final score indicated—the Celtics (and Tatum in particular) poured it on in desperation time. It felt like most everyone on the roster took a turn making an impact in the game at some point. They just couldn’t string together enough stops to capitalize on the spurts of offense that came from throughout the lineup. They tried to double Tatum at different points during the game, and that clearly didn’t work.
Jalen McDaniels played really well en route to his career high scoring performance. Ball and Rozier weren’t very efficient (14/40 combined) but they made shots in big moments.
The Hornets will hit the road for another four game road trip that starts in Houston on Wednesday.