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Hornets Halt C’s 6-Game Streak, Despite Big Nights from JT, Pritchard

The Boston Celtics barely missed out on completing a four-game, road-trip sweep Monday night, as they fell 121-118 in overtime at Charlotte while playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

After beating Philadelphia, Toronto, and Memphis on the first three legs of the journey, the C’s got a surprise sting out of a Hornets squad that had entered the night with a 3-9 record.

There was some good that came out of the game, however, in the form of tandem season-high scoring efforts from Jayson Tatum and Payton Pritchard.

Tatum bounced back from a tough night in Memphis with his first monster outpour of the campaign. He scored a season-best 45 points, along with 13 rebounds, six assists, and two blocked shots, becoming just the second player in franchise history to post such a stat line along with Larry Bird.

The Hornets are used to being on the receiving end of such efforts from Tatum. He’s now logged six straight performances of at least 33 points against them, including three consecutive of 41-plus.

Tatum had been somewhat off the previous night in Memphis, where he logged 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and a season-high eight turnovers in a 102-100 win. The most surprising stat from that game was that he attempted just one 3-pointer, his lowest total in a game since his sophomore season.

Tatum responded Monday night with season highs in makes and attempts from deep, where he shot 7-of-15. It was his 13th career game with at least seven buckets from downtown, including his second against Charlotte.

Tatum also tied his career high in first-half points with 31 and became the first Celtic to record at least 30 points and nine rebounds in any half dating back to 1996-97 when the NBA began tracking quarter and half data.

Pritchard had a stellar bounce-back effort as well. He broke out of a five-game single-digit scoring stretch with a season-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-8 from long distance.

Helping to fill the void of Derrick White (away from the team due to personal reasons), Pritchard erupted out of the gate by making all four of his 3-point attempts in the first quarter. The 12-point effort was the first double-digit first-quarter scoring performance of his career. It was also the first time in franchise history that a reserve player made at least four 3-pointers off the bench in a first quarter.

Though, the highlight of the night was one that he produced from inside the arc: a beautiful isolation dribble-drive, with a crafty finish.

Pritchard also logged six rebounds, three assists, and two steals, and did not commit a single turnover in his 33 minutes of action.

Those contributions outside of Pritchard's scoring have impressed Joe Mazzulla the most this season. The head coach identified “his crashing and his defensive presence” as areas of growth for the fourth-year point guard. “I think he’s doing a great job picking up full-court and competing on the defensive end. He’s just becoming a complete player on both ends of the floor.”

Unfortunately, a pair of complete efforts from Pritchard and Tatum weren’t enough to give Boston its seventh straight win. However, the good news is that the C’s still own the best record in the NBA (11-3), and they’ll return home for their most anticipated matchup thus far when they host the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night at TD Garden.