The Boston Celtics earned their third consecutive victory as they took down the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, 127-116.
It was another shorthanded win for the C's, who were without Jaylen Brown (facial contusion), Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain), and Al Horford (right knee swelling). They overcame those absences by shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, including 45.5 percent (25-for-55) from 3-point range. Their 16 first-half 3s set a new franchise record.
Jayson Tatum bounced back after an off game with 41 points while becoming the youngest player in NBA history to make 1,000 3-pointers before their 25th birthday. Derrick White stepped up with Brown out and dropped a career-high 33 points.
Former Celtic Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 27 points while LaMelo Ball added 24.
The Celtics will look to stay hot when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. Here are our takeaways from Friday's victory, which completes a season sweep of Charlotte and brings the C's to 40-16 on the season.
Derrick White puts on a show
It was the Derrick White Show at TD Garden on Friday night. On the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought White to Boston, the Celtics guard celebrated accordingly.
White caught fire from 3 early on and just kept on shooting. The result was 26 points on a career-high seven 3-pointers (7-for-9) in the first half alone.
White slowed down in the second half, but he still ended up with a regular-season career-high 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting (8-14 3PT). Along with the 3s, he made a difference with his playmaking (10 assists) and defense (three blocks). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the only guard with more blocks (54) than White (53) this season.
Friday's performance adds to what has been an outstanding stretch for White. The 28-year-old has scored in double-figures in eight straight games, averaging 20.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in that span.
At this point, White may have a case to be an injury replacement in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.
Mike Muscala gives strong first impression
Before Friday's game, C's president Brad Stevens touted Mike Muscala's versatility and shooting prowess as the reasons he was acquired before Thursday's trade deadline. The big man wasted no time making his presence felt with his new team.
In the first quarter, Muscala drilled a contested corner 3 for his first points as a Celtic.
The 6-foot-10 center continued to live up to his reputation as a strong 3-point shooter by going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and finishing with 12 points. He also notched a pair of assists and a block in 16 productive minutes.
All in all, it was an encouraging Celtics debut for a player who appears to fit in seamlessly. Muscala adds much-needed scoring off the bench and, as Stevens said, he can play alongside the other bigs. He played with both Blake Griffin and Robert Williams in the win.
Sam Hauser the sharpshooter is back
It might be safe to say Hauser's shooting struggles are behind him. He appears to have returned to form as a serious 3-point threat off the bench as he has shot with confidence and gotten terrific results over the last three games.
Hauser hit four of his nine 3-point attempts on Friday to finish with 12 points.
Over his last three games, Hauser is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 13-for-22 from beyond the arc. This is exactly what the Celtics hoped they'd get out of him when they added him to the rotation.
Jayson Tatum owns the Hornets
The Hornets will be happy to not have to see Tatum for the rest of the season.
Tatum has given them nightmares throughout his career, but he has taken that dominance to another level in recent matchups. He dropped 51 points against them last month and with his 41-point outburst in Friday's win, Tatum is averaging 40.8 points on 57.7 percent shooting (44.1 percent from 3) over his last five games against Charlotte.
Tatum has averaged 26.1 points against the Hornets in his career. The only teams he has averaged more points against are the New Orleans Pelicans (26.9) and Portland Trail Blazers (26.4).