Hornets Give Celtics All They Can Handle In MLK Day Rematch Defeat

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McDaniels Tallies Career-High 26 PTS, Jayson Tatum Has Historic Performance for Boston

Clawing their way back from an early deficit, the Charlotte Hornets gave everything they had in Monday afternoon’s MLK Day matinee, which ultimately wasn’t enough to overcome the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum’s 51 points in a 130-118 home loss.  

Jalen McDaniels notched a new career high with 26 points – 18 in the first half – on 9-of-15 shooting, a career-high five 3-pointers, three rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes. LaMelo Ball then added 25 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Mason Plumlee totaled 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for his 17th double-double of the campaign.

Boston took a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter after closing the frame on a 16-3 run, but Charlotte won each of the middle two frames by a combined seven points to enter the fourth down by six. The Hornets continued to hover within striking distance until there was about four minutes to go, when a 15-4 Boston run – which featured 13 points courtesy of Jayson Tatum – tipped the outcome in the Celtics’ favor.

“I think the guys fought hard, made a lot of good plays,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards. “We gave ourselves a chance. Guys played hard, we were much more disciplined. Tatum obviously was great. In terms of effort and attitude, the guys have been great. Hopefully we’ll get Gordon [Hayward] back and Cody [Martin] hopefully also, and try to build on this.”

Charlotte shot 41.9% from 3-point range (13-of-31) and sank 23-of-30 free-throw attempts (76.7%), while committing only five turnovers, matching its second-lowest total of the season. The Hornets topped Boston in fast-break points, 20-4, but the Celtics made up for it with 20 3-pointers on 46.5% shooting, 19 second-chance points and a 34-17 advantage in bench scoring.

With Martin out of the lineup because of left knee soreness and still no Hayward or Kelly Oubre Jr. available, Bryce McGowens was back in the rotation for the Hornets. So was Mark Williams, who will likely be rotating with Nick Richards at the backup five spot for the time being.

Added Clifford, “I want those guys [Williams and Richards] both to play. I think they’re both a big part of the future. I think they both are really good players. I’ve even spent time thinking about playing all three of them (Williams, Richards and Plumlee). Guys have to play enough minutes so they can play well. It’s not ideal for them, but it’s a good place for the organization to be when you have two young guys who both have a chance to be good players.”

On the Boston side, Tatum was simply brilliant, finishing with a season-high 51 points on 15-of-23 shooting, seven 3-pointers, nine rebounds and five assists, good for his seventh 40-point game of the campaign and third in four visits to Spectrum Center. The 51 points tied Gilbert Arenas’ output from Jan. 15, 2007 for the third-most points ever scored on MLK Day, trailing only Damian Lillard (60 on Jan. 20, 2020) and Kemba Waker (52 on Jan. 18, 2016)

The Hornets will embark on another four-game road trip starting with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, Jan. 18 beginning at 8 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.

Post Game Interviews

Steve Clifford

Terry Rozier

Jalen McDaniels

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