Amid ‘MVP’ chants in Charlotte, Celtics’ Tatum nets 51 points

CHARLOTTE, NC — Jayson Tatum knew he was sitting on 48 points getting into the ultimate minute of the Boston Celtics’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee towards the Charlotte Hornets on Monday and briefly considered backing the ball out and letting the clock run down with the result nicely in hand.

Then he remembered a textual content from Jamal Crawford earlier this season after Tatum refused to take a late shot towards the Miami Heat and completed the sport with 49 points.

“Jamal texted me after the sport and he is like, ‘If you are ever that near 50, no one goes to recollect the time and rating, they’re simply going to report if you happen to acquired 50 or not,'” Tatum stated . “That’s what was going via my thoughts: Jamal telling me if you happen to get that near 50, go get it.”

So Tatum let unfastened on a 3-pointer from the left wing with 38 seconds left and swished it, giving him a season-high 51 points — inflicting the group to erupt with chants of “MVP MVP” — because the Celtics defeated the Hornets for the second time in three days, 130-118.

It was the fifth 50-point sport of Tatum’s profession, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Information analysis.

Derrick White added 19 points and eight assists and Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 for the Celtics, who’ve gained seven straight video games. Boston is 33-12 on the season, the very best report in the Eastern Conference.

Tatum was 15-of-23 from the sphere and 14-of-14 from the foul line.

“He makes me appear like a greater coach,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla stated.

Mazzulla stated he favored the way in which Tatum excelled at executing towards completely different coverages the Hornets threw at him.

“He did not accept pictures,” Mazzulla stated. “He acquired catch-and-shoots, he acquired off the dribbles, he acquired layups. The different piece of that’s the humility of our group to essentially work with him to get these 51 points.”

Added White: “He needs to be nice and he takes that problem each evening. He’s seen a variety of protection throughout his time in the league and he is making the best learn off of that.”

Jalen McDaniels led the Hornets with a career-high 26 points on 5-of-7 capturing from 3-point vary. LaMelo Ball completed with 25 points on 8-of-23 capturing. Mason Plumlee had maybe his finest all-around sport of the season, with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Hornets (11-34), who’ve misplaced eight of their previous 9 video games.

The Celtics set the tone early, leaping out to a 35-22 lead in the primary quarter after holding the Hornets to twenty-eight.6% capturing from the ground.

Charlotte would struggle again to chop the result in 100-98 early in the fourth quarter, however White was fouled by Dennis Smith Jr. on a 3-point try and made all three free throws.

Moments later, the Celtics acquired three lengthy offensive rebounds on one possession earlier than White drove to the rim and scored to extend the lead with 6:34 left, inflicting Hornets coach Steve Clifford to punch the air in frustration.

“When a shot goes up, all 5 guys ought to be coming again for the rebound,” Clifford stated. “That is the way in which we wish it. Defensive rebounding is a problem for our group and we’re not overly bodily. We have a behavior of leaking out and it has price us two video games.”

Tatum took over down the stretch, ending with 17 points in the fourth quarter.

He drilled a step-back 3 from the highest of the important thing over Smith to push the result in 10 after which buried the Hornets with a protracted 3 with 1:02 left. Tatum smiled when requested concerning the MVP chants.

“I hear them, and simply being in North Carolina, all of it feels a little bit extra particular, having gone to highschool two hours away,” stated Tatum, who spent one season at (*51*) earlier than getting into the NBA draft. “Coming right here seems like I’m again residence a little bit bit.”

During pregame warmups, the Celtics and Hornets wore grey and white T-shirts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day that learn “Now is the time to make justice a actuality for all” on the entrance and “Honor King” on the again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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