In one of their most well-rounded performances of the year, the Celtics blew by a banged up Charlotte Hornets team 116-86 Sunday night at TD Garden. The win gets the Celtics back to .500, at 25-25.
They also picked up valuable ground in the Eastern Conference standings. Entering the game, Charlotte was in fourth place in the conference while the Celtics sat in eighth, with just a game and a half separating the two.
Early on, the Celtics found themselves in a nine-point hole. However, they were able to dig their way out of it, with an Evan Fournier three pointer capping a 13-4 Boston run and tying the game at the two minute mark of the quarter. It was Jaylen Brown doing the brunt of the work – he finished with 11 first quarter points. Through 12 minutes, Charlotte held a slight 26-25 point lead.
Romeo Langford, playing his first minutes of the season, had an impactful run to start the second quarter. After hitting his first shot of the year – a three pointer – to give the Celtics the lead, he denied Miles Bridges at the rim at the other end of the floor.
Boston capitalized on that energy and dominated the rest of the quarter, holding the Hornets to just 17 points in the frame. Heading into halftime, the Celtics led 58-43.
If defense was the story of the Celtics’ second quarter, offense was the story of the third. The Celtics scored 40 points in the quarter, with 15 of those coming from Jayson Tatum. That included a buzzer beater to close the frame, which made the score Boston 98, Charlotte 70.
The Celtics continued to roll in the fourth quarter, which included Tatum scoring his 5,000th career point. At 23 years and 32 days old, he is the youngest player in franchise history to reach that mark.
In total, the Celtics had six players finish in double figures. Tatum led the way with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Brown and Fournier each contributed 17, while Robert Williams added 16 and Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart each dropped 12.
Langford, in his first game action in over a year, scored three points in 12 minutes, shooting 1-of-4 from the field. He also recorded an assist, rebound, block, and steal.
On the other end, former Celtic Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting. No other player scored more than 11 for Charlotte, who was playing without Gordon Hayward for the first time since his foot injury on Friday.
Up next for the Celtics is a meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. That game tips off Tuesday at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.