1/19 Game Preview: Hornets at Celtics


Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics will look to keep their high-wire act going as they welcome Miles Bridges and the Charlotte Hornets to town on Wednesday night.

Tatum finished with 27 points and eight rebounds to lead a Boston team that started slowly and overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 104-92 at home on Monday.

It was the Celtics' second straight narrow win after they outlasted a shorthanded Chicago Bulls team 114-112 last Saturday. They rallied from six points down with just less than two minutes remaining.

Overall, the Celtics have won seven of their past 10 games as they attempt to crawl back into contention during their middling season. One of the teams the Celtics must overtake is the Hornets, with a 1.5-game spread separating the two in the tight NBA Eastern Conference standings.

"We have a great opportunity here at home in seeing how much ground we can gain," Celtics center Al Horford said Tuesday. "We're still in striking distance."

Horford contributed 12 points and seven rebounds in the win over New Orleans. Jaylen Brown put up 23 points and grabbed eight boards, and Dennis Schroder added 23 points and nine assists.

The Celtics were without starting guard Marcus Smart (COVID-19 health and safety protocol) and starting center Robert Williams III (personal reasons) against the Pelicans. Smart missed his fourth game in a row.

Boston reserve Aaron Nesmith rolled his ankle during Monday's game and did not practice with the team on Tuesday. The team said it will monitor Nesmith's condition leading up to the game against Charlotte.

Charlotte had a bounce-back performance in a 97-87 win at the New York Knicks on Monday. Bridges stole the Gotham spotlight, scoring a career-high 38 points with LaMelo Ball sidelined.

Ball missed the game with a non-COVID illness for the Hornets, who pulled away midway through the opening period and never looked back.

"I felt like from start to finish, we controlled that game and it was by the decisions and choices we made out there on the floor," Charlotte coach James Borrego said. "I thought it was as close to 48 minutes as we've played all season."

Terry Rozier amassed 22 points, seven assists and six boards, and former Celtic Gordon Hayward chipped in 16 points to pick up the slack in Ball's absence.

The win kept the Hornets from a losing streak after a 116-109 loss versus Orlando last Friday. Charlotte has won five of six and eight of 11 games overall.

On Tuesday, the Hornets listed Kelly Oubre Jr. as questionable against the Celtics as he makes his return from the league's health and safety protocol.

The Celtics and Hornets met once earlier this season on Oct. 25 in Charlotte. Boston pulled out a 140-129 overtime victory behind a then-season-high 41 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Tatum.

Trailing by 12 with just over six minutes to go in regulation, the Celtics rallied with a 22-8 push to force overtime. Boston outscored the hosts 18-7 in the extra period.

Bridges and Ball scored 25 points apiece to pace the Hornets in the October defeat.