Celtics waste Jayson Tatum’s big night, snap winning streak: 8 takeaways vs. Hornets

Celtics

The Celtics had a lot of reasons to lose, but failed to capitalize on opportunities to win.

Celtics Hornets
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum shoots the ball under pressure from Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams. AP Photo/Erik Verduzco

The Celtics blew an 18-point lead and dropped a 121-118 overtime loss to a bad Hornets team on Monday, which snapped a six-game winning streak.

Here are the takeaways.

1. The Celtics were playing their third road game in four nights and the second game of a back-to-back, and they looked like every mile of their four-game road trip. Jayson Tatum scored 45 points, and Payton Pritchard was excellent with 21 points, but the Celtics’ defense couldn’t stop LaMelo Ball or Mark Williams (who looks like a keeper for the Hornets). Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis was inefficient, and both Jaylen Brown and Sam Hauser had nightmarish evenings from the floor.

The Celtics are going to lose some bad games this season, and Monday’s was a prime contender given the road trip and the schedule. Presumably, that didn’t make the flight back to Boston any easier, but sleeping in their own beds might help the players a bit.

2. The Celtics probably should have had a few extra seconds to execute up a play in the closing seconds of the overtime period, since too much time clearly appeared to come off the clock, and the officials opted not check the replay.

The decision not to check the replay was somewhat mystifying, since officials are never shy about delaying the game and going to the monitors. There is, of course, no guarantee the Celtics would have scored with the extra time, but they probably should have had an opportunity to do so (the extra seconds would have been the difference between having to catch and shoot immediately and being able to take a couple of dribbles first). The referees essentially guaranteed another round of conversation about officiating when the Last Two Minutes report drops on Tuesday.

3. Jaylen Brown had his second really difficult night in a row from the field. After going 5-for-16 against the Grizzlies, he finished 5-for-17 against the Hornets and missed all five of his 3-pointers, including a questionable 2-for-1 attempt in overtime that gave the Hornets the ball with a chance to take the lead. Miles Bridges canned a triple (more on that in a minute), and the Celtics spent the final seconds of the game trying to claw back.

Brown has had an up-and-down start to the year, and the end of the road trip was a valley.

4. Even still, the Celtics had a chance to tie when Tatum caught a pass and elevated for a 3-pointer with Gordon Hayward trailing him too closely. Hayward got caught in Tatum’s landing space and gave up a foul, but Tatum went 2-for-3 at the free throw line, which set up the bizarre clock sequence above.

As a team, the Celtics were 18-for-28 (64.3 percent) from the free-throw line. In an overtime game that the Celtics lost by three, those missed free throws loom large.

5. The Celtics were 16-for-50 from behind the arc (32 percent). If you subtract the 12 makes in 23 attempts by Tatum and Pritchard, the Celtics shot just under 15 percent, 4-for-27 from three.

The 3-pointers will continue to fly (and they should), but the Celtics will need to hope that Monday’s performance was an aberration due to the schedule and not a return to the streaky shooting that got them in trouble at times last year.

6. Jrue Holiday finished with seven turnovers. While Holiday has been a rock-solid defender and a net positive on the offensive end, Bucks fans warned that he sometimes has moments that leave fans shaking their heads. Unfortunately for the Celtics, Monday’s game was full of them.

7. You are here for basketball, so we started with basketball, but let’s take a quick moment as we close to note that part of the reason the Celtics lost was because of Miles Bridges, who hit a 3-pointer that gave the Hornets a three-point lead in overtime that the Celtics couldn’t overcome.

Bridges is in his third game back after serving a 30-game suspension. Prior to his return, he told reporters that if he helps the Hornets get more wins “people’s perspectives will change.”

Monday’s game showed that he might be right.

In 2022, Bridges pleaded no contest to a felony domestic violence charge against the mother of his children. She detailed a horrific account of abuse on Instagram, writing that Bridges concussed her, broke her nose, and strangled her until she passed out. She may be well aware of how discourse on the internet works, because she also provided medical documentation of her injuries as well as photos of her bruised face. The photos are difficult to look at. Her account of the incident is difficult to read. The video of their son recounting to a third party how “daddy choked mommy” is heartbreaking. There are newer allegations that Bridges and a girlfriend threatened her and threw billiards balls at her car while the former couple’s children were inside it as well.

All of that is to question whether Bridges deserves to have public perspective shift. It’s also probably worth considering whether the Hornets should have given more thought to making him part of an NBA team again, but that ship, it seems, has sailed.

8. The Celtics will take on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and the new-look Bucks for the first time this season on Wednesday as they return to TD Garden. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.


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