White Steps Up After Brown Goes Down, Helps C’s Soar Past Hawks

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BOSTON – A few hours ahead of Tuesday night’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, Derrick White had been describing to the media how he was feeling more comfortable in his new Celtics uniform with each passing day.

Then, he went out and proved his point.

After Jaylen Brown went down with a sprained ankle early in the first quarter, White stepped up and produced his best Boston performance yet, logging 18 points and five assists while helping to lead the C’s to a 107-98 come-from-behind win at TD Garden.

Boston’s night started off with a scare, as Brown twisted his ankle less than three minutes into the action while driving to the basket. The veteran wing stayed down for several moments after stumbling to the court before hobbling back to the locker room, leaving the Celtics shorthanded for the rest of the night.

Boston struggled to adjust after the sudden departure, as it went down by as many as 17 points during the second quarter before entering halftime with a 65-51 deficit. However, the C’s clearly made some adjustments during the break, as they went off on a 14-0 run to start the third quarter.

“Offensively it felt like we were a little – I don’t know, shell-shocked with Jaylen going out,” head coach Ime Udoka stated after the game. “We kind of had to figure out how we were going to attack it, and Derrick was a huge part of that.”

White was one of the main catalysts during Boston’s 31-13 third quarter, as he helped to turn a 14-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead heading into the final frame. At one point, the fifth-year guard scored nine consecutive points, knocking down an and-one driving floater, a pull-up midrange jumper, a driving hook shot, and another driving floater, which gave the C’s a 78-76 lead.

“We kind of talked about it at halftime and put the package together for Derrick to get some looks,” said Udoka. “They took Trae Young off of Marcus (Smart) – we were posting up a few times there – and put him on Derrick, so we had some advantages as far as that, and he just made the right plays attacking downhill.”

It also helped that Jayson Tatum was going off simultaneously because that forced the Hawks to put extra defenders on Boston’s top scorer. Tatum tallied game-highs in both the scoring and assisting departments, finishing with 33 points and seven helpers, to go along with eight rebounds.

Grant Williams matched White’s effort off the bench, scoring 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. And Marcus Smart chipped in with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists, providing another helping hand to fill Brown’s absence.

As for JB, he remained inside the Celtics locker room for the remainder of the game, getting treatment and resting up. He wanted to return to the action, according to Udoka, but the team kept him out just to be safe and will continue to keep an eye on him over the next few days.

Fortunately, Boston didn’t need Brown to return, as White helped to fill his void with a strong, well-rounded performance.

“Derrick was huge handling, scoring, distributing, defensively, all the way around,” said Udoka. “So it was huge to have a guy like him ready on a night when Jaylen goes out.”