6 takeaways from Celtics win over Hornets, as Derrick White scores career high

The Celtics won their third game in a row behind big nights by Jayson Tatum and Derrick White.

Celtics Hornets
Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum smiles as he leaves the court past teammate Derrick White. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The Celtics handled the Hornets with relative ease on Friday, claiming a 127-116 victory.

Here are the takeaways.

1. Derrick White has been excellent for several weeks now, but Friday was different — the kind of heater that makes all of the hard work worthwhile for a basketball player.

White buried a 3-pointer and a floater in the first two minutes of the game, and he tossed in a floater through contact before taking a seat for the rest of the first quarter.

Then in the second quarter, he exploded. White hit three 3-pointers in a two-minute stretch at the start of the period, then hit two more on consecutive possessions five minutes later. He hit one more for good measure with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter. By the time the Celtics reached halftime, White already had 26 points.


White finished with 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting and 8-for-14 from 3-point range (a total that apparently had Marcus Smart sweating about his franchise record for 3-pointers made at 11). White told reporters after the game that the last time he felt that hot was probably “a pro-am game or something.” At one point, White even did the famous Michael Jordan Shrug when his 3-pointer in the second half bounced in (although he denied that he meant to do it postgame).

“When I made like the first four, you kind of get the green light to do whatever you want at that moment,” White said. “But I still kind of try not to just take shots outside of the offense. So shout out to the guys for finding me, and I should knock them down.”

When the Celtics acquired White, they thought their spacing might get him some open looks, which would improve his 3-point shooting (and supplement the myriad of other good things he brings to the floor). Friday marked the one-year anniversary of White’s arrival in Boston.

“Feels like I’ve been here forever,” White said. “Even though it’s only been one year, so just this year, just a lot more settled in, know where I’m going compared to a year ago today where my life kind of just changed at an instant.


“Like I said, I love being here and it’s just been fun playing with this team.”

2. Jayson Tatum managed to score a sneaky 41 points (if that’s possible), piling up 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics held off a Hornets team that refused to go away, and then refused to stop fouling to stop the clock on a lost cause in the final minute.

Still, Tatum was highly efficient — 13-for-21 from the floor and 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Importantly, he seems to have discovered that he can help both his team and his box score by piling up easy points that supplement the tough ones.

“I think through my experiences of deep playoff runs, of getting to the Finals, of kind of figuring out what works best for myself, what works best for the team, and I think this summer just focusing on finishing, focusing on getting easier baskets — off-ball cuts, transition, screening,” Tatum said when a reporter asked about his eight 40-point games this season. “There’s going to be time for those isolation plays, but throughout the course of a game, throughout the course of a season, the more easy looks you can get, just kind of makes my life and my teammates do a great job of just making my life a lot easier.


“So just trying to find the little nuances throughout the game of making everything easier.”

3. Per Brad Stevens, who spoke to reporters before the game, Jaylen Brown isn’t likely to need surgery to fix his facial fracture, but he will need a mask.

“He’s still feeling it, doesn’t feel great,” Stevens said. “So we’ll see how he feels when he starts moving around and then we’ll get together early in the week and kind of figure out what’s next. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too long, which is a good thing.”

Tatum was asked about his role in the injury after he inadvertently crashed into Brown elbow-first against the 76ers.

“I feel like I need to buy him a car or something,” Tatum said. “First time all season me and him both crash from the corner, and I end up elbowing him in the face. Obviously, I feel terrible, a freak accident, but whether it’s a mask or buying him a car, I think I got it.”

What kind of car would Tatum buy Brown?

“Something safe,” Tatum quipped.

4. Mike Muscala made his Celtics debut after they dealt Justin Jackson and a pair of second-round picks to acquire him at the deadline on Thursday, wearing the No. 57 in honor of his late mother. Muscala impressed, knocking down four of his eight 3-point attempts in 15 minutes off the bench.

“It was really fun,” Muscala said. “Energy in the arena was just amazing. You can just tell the fans love the game here and just a blessing. It was fun.”


Muscala said he needs to improve on the defensive end, which will come with more time and film. He is excited, however, about the Celtics’ switch-happy defensive system.

“That’s something I challenged myself to improve at this offseason,” Muscala said. “So I look forward to that challenge.”

5. The Celtics threatened their 3-point record once again, which they set back in November with 27 3-pointers against the Knicks. On Friday, they came up two triples short with 25 — doomed by a cold stretch in the third quarter which allowed the Hornets to close the gap a bit. In addition to eight triples from White, five from Tatum and four from Muscala, the Celtics also got a 4-for-9 performance from deep from Sam Hauser, who continues to right himself a bit.

Tatum became the youngest player in NBA history to make 1,000 3-pointers with his performance — topping his childhood friend Bradley Beal.

“Obviously, it’s been talked a lot about our relationship and him being my big brother and mentored me when I was in high school and still to this day,” Tatum said. “That was the coolest part for me and I know he’s probably genuinely happy for me too, and that’s the best part of it.”

6. Marcus Smart remained out with his sprained ankle on Friday, but per Brad Stevens, he is feeling “a lot better.”

“He’s getting on the court,” Stevens said. “I haven’t talked to [Celtics Executive Director of Performance] Phil Coles today about what exactly the next step is, but he’s got a little bit of pain in that same ankle he sprained last year and then re-aggravated in the fall, but he looks like he’s getting a lot closer to me when he’s on the court.”


The Celtics face the Grizzlies next on Sunday at 2 p.m.


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