Another day goes by, and another superstar takes over in Charlotte. Jason Tatum went off tonight against the Hornets, scoring 44 points and leading the Boston Celtics to their 23rd win in their last 31 games. This is just one night after Kyrie Irving scored 50 points. Charlotte has now lost 13 of their last 17 games and looks like a team that has lost the confidence and joy they played with earlier in the season. Charlotte started off the game with sloppy play and finished the game with 16 turnovers. Anytime Charlotte looked like they would make a run, Jason Tatum had answers. Here are some observations from tonight’s loss:
Boston’s Defense Causes Hornets to Struggle:
Boston has had the best defense in the NBA since the calendar flipped to 2022 and it continued tonight. The Celtics’ defense held Charlotte to 42% shooting from the floor, 25% from three, and caused the Hornets to turn the ball over 16 times. When Charlotte didn’t turn the ball over, they were forced into bad shots. LaMelo got off to a tough start with five turnovers in the first half and was the focus of the Celtics’ defense early on. Ball was often guarded by a combination of Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. Terry Rozier shot 5-17 from the floor against his former team.
Hornets Come Up Short in Bey Back-to-Back:
Charlotte had an opportunity to show it was going to fight against teams that have deep playoff run aspirations in Brooklyn and Boston and came up short both times. The Hornets started the game flat against Brooklyn and got down by 32 before playing with any energy. In tonight’s loss they didn’t dig themselves into that type of a hole, but it felt like Boston was in control throughout most of the game. In the stretch between the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning of the 4th quarter, Tatum asserted himself and put Boston ahead comfortably. Charlotte is struggling and it doesn’t look like things will turn around based on their recent play.
Up next, Charlotte has two road games – Friday at New Orleans and Monday at Oklahoma City. If the Hornets are going to salvage what’s left of their season, they have to win both of these road games before returning home to take on the Atlanta Hawks next Wednesday. With only 15 games left, can these next two games on the road lead to a strong finish?