Payton Pritchard takes and makes a jump shot against the Charlotte Hornets

Keys to the Game: Celtics 131, Hornets 98

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Key Moment

No top six? No problem.

With their seeding beyond locked up for the looming Playoffs, the Celtics rested all five of their starters plus Al Horford Friday night against Charlotte. The reserves didn’t skip a beat.

Friday’s starting crew of Payton Pritchard, Jaden Springer, Sam Hauser, Svi Mykhailiuk and Luke Kornet, along with reserves Oshae Brissett, Jordan Walsh and Xavier Tillman Sr., helped the Celtics to build a nine-point lead on multiple occasions during the first quarter. And that was just the beginning of this runaway win.

Boston eventually pulled ahead by as many as 35 points, spurred by 31-6 run late in the first half that turned a three-point advantage into a 28-point lead. Pritchard and Hauser, the two players from Boston’s likely playoff rotation who appeared Friday night, were at the center of the game-changing run as they scored 10 points apiece during the frame. Pritchard scored all 10 of his points during the run, all while dishing out four assists.

From that moment on, the Celtics were in cruise control. That allowed members of the Maine Celtics – who were called up in the middle of the G League Finals – to pile up some numbers during the second half. Queta wound up finishing with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, Jordan Walsh piled up eight points and three rebounds and a steal, JD Davison totaled seven points, seven assists and four rebounds, and Drew Peterson scored eight points.

Boston’s 131-98 victory secures the fact that the team will finish this season without ever losing three straight games, becoming the first Celtics roster to accomplish that feat since the 2010-11 team.

Key Player

So many options, but only one Key Player spot. Payton Pritchard, with his career-high scoring effort, is the man who has earned the award tonight.

Pritchard was dominant from start to finish in his spot start. He led the game with a career-high 31 points, and he also led the game with 11 assists. This performance marks the third double-double effort of his four-year career.

As is typical of Pritchard’s game, he was extremely efficient shooting the ball against Charlotte. He canned 14 of his 22 shots from the field, including three makes from long distance. He led the game in both field goal makes and attempts and set new career highs in each category.

Pritchard rounded out his box score with three rebounds and one steal, showing everyone who’s watching that he’s more than ready for the bright lights of the postseason.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Payton Pritchard logged a career-high 31 points to go along with a team-high 11 assists.
  • Boston led by as many as 35 points.
  • Pritchard and Luke Kornet (16 points, 10 rebounds) were the only players in the game who logged double-doubles.
  • Neemias Queta came off the bench to total 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
  • JD Davison totaled seven points and seven assists in only 17 minutes.
  • Boston outscored Charlotte 60-26 in the paint.
  • Tre Mann led Charlotte in scoring with 19 points.
  • Charlotte made six more free throws (19) than Boston attempted (13).
  • Jaden Springer scored 11 points and led the game in steals with three.
  • Each team's bench scored at least 49 points (55 by Charlotte's and 49 by Boston's).

Quote of the Night

"The game's easy when you make it easy."

- Payton Pritchard on scoring 31 points in only three quarters of action