BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 41 points and Derrick White set new career highs with 33 points and eight 3-pointers to help the Boston Celtics hold off the Charlotte Hornets 127-116 on Friday night.
Tatum started the fourth quarter on the bench but was reinstated after Charlotte cut Boston’s 7-03 lead to 14 points. The Hornets were trailing in the third quarter with 28 points remaining on a 15-3 run.
It was Tatum’s eighth game of the season with 40 or more points, but he cut his minutes to 37 total to make it on an otherwise easy night of work for the MVP contender.
Boston has won five of their last six overall, winning the season series with the Hornets 4-0.
Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 27 points. LaMelo Ball added 24 points and 10 assists. The Hornets have lost their last six games.
White hit his first eight shots of the night, including six from beyond the arc, as Boston built a 20-point lead in the first half. White finished the first half with 26 points and seven 3-pointers. He finished 8 of 14 of 3 for the game. He also had 10 assists.
His early goal helped fill the void left by the absence of all-star Jaylen Brown, who was diagnosed with a fractured upper jaw on his face after accidentally taking an elbow off Tatum on Wednesday while he was playing during the Philadelphia went for a rebound after the Celtics’ victory.
Brown’s unavailability did little to slow Boston, who shot 49% on the night and had 25 3-pointers.
Charlotte fell 6-0 behind and never led as it lost its sixth straight.
The game also saw the debut of Boston’s newly acquired big man Mike Muscala after he was added in a deal with Oklahoma City for Justin Jackson and two future second-round draft picks on Thursday.
Muscala first checked in at 3:30 of the first quarter and scored his first points as Celtic less than two minutes later, scoring from the wing with a 3-point goal.
He played 16 minutes with Al Horford missing his second straight game with a sore right knee.
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said he doesn’t expect Brown to miss much time.
Stevens said Brown has been fitted with a mask and will be evaluated over the next few days.
Hornets: Outscored Celtics 28-26 in third quarter. …shot 48% for the game and 35% from the 3-point line (8 of 23).
Celtics: With a 3 in the dying seconds of the second quarter, Tatum became the youngest player (24 years, 344 days) in NBA history to reach 1,000 3-pointers. He is the first to do so before he turns 25. … Boston led 71-53 at halftime and connected 16-of-31 from the 3-point line. … Marcus Smart sat for the ninth straight year with a sprained right ankle. Stevens said Smart is getting closer to a return but is still in pain.
Hornets: Visit Nuggets on Saturday.
Celtics: Host Grizzlies on Sunday.
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