CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jayson Tatum had 51 points, including seven 3-pointers, and the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets for the second time in three days, 130-118 on Monday, for their seventh straight victory.
Derrick White added 19 points and eight assists and Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 for the Celtics, who improved to 33-12 on the season — maintaining the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Tatum was 15 of 23 from the field and 14 of 14 from the foul line.
Jalen McDaniels led the Hornets with a career-high 26 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. LaMelo Ball finished with 25 points on 8-of-23 shooting. Mason Plumlee had perhaps his best all-around game of the season, with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Hornets (11-34), who’ve lost eight of their last nine games.
The Celtics set the tone early, jumping out to a 35-22 lead in the first quarter after holding the Hornets to 28.6% shooting from the floor. The Celtics, meanwhile, hit 6 of 13 3s in the first quarter. Boston finished with 20 3-pointers.
Charlotte cut the lead to 100-98 early in the fourth quarter, but White was fouled by Dennis Smith Jr. on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws.
A short while later, the Celtics got three long offensive rebounds before White grabbed the ball and drove to the rim and scored to increase the lead with 6:34 left, causing Hornets coach Steve Clifford to punch the air in frustration.
Tatum took over from there.
He drilled a step-back 3 from the top of the key over Smith to push the lead to 10 and put away the game with a long 3 with 1:02 left. Then, at the crowd’s urging for him to get to 50 points, Tatum canned a 3 from left wing with 38 seconds left and the crowd erupted into chants of “MVP! MVP!”
Tatum had 17 points in the fourth quarter.
MLK JR. DAY
The Celtics and Hornets wore gray and white T-shirts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day that read “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all” on the front and “Honor King” on the back.
Celtics: Finished 24 of 25 from the free-throw line.
Hornets: P.J. Washington had 17 points.
Celtics: Host Washington on Thursday night.
Hornets: Open a four-game road trip at Houston on Wednesday night.
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