Boston Celtics

Celtics-Hornets takeaways: Tatum, C's fall just short in OT thriller

One missed free throw spoiled Tatum's 45-point performance.

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Three Key Storylines

  • Free throws aren't free
  • Non-Tatum starters struggle
  • Tatum, Pritchard do their part

The Boston Celtics' six-game win streak was snapped Monday night as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets in an overtime thriller at Spectrum Center.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the C's showed some signs of fatigue and failed to maintain multiple double-digit leads over the Hornets. Charlotte overcame an 18-point deficit early on and an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force OT.

Hornets star LaMelo Ball (36 points) came through with a clutch layup that tied the game at 108 with seven seconds remaining in the fourth. Miles Bridges (14 points) drilled what turned out to be the game-winner with 6.6 seconds left in OT.

The Celtics' loss brings them to 11-3 on the season. They'll return home to host the Milwaukee Bucks in a much-anticipated matchup Wednesday night.

First, here are our takeaways from Monday's defeat.

Free throws aren't free

Jayson Tatum stepped to the line for three free-throw attempts with 5.2 seconds left in overtime. If he hit all three, he would have tied the game at 109.

He hit the first two and missed the third in what was a fitting end to the game for Boston.

The C's had a miserable night at the charity stripe. Jrue Holiday missed two free throws with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter to keep it a one-possession game for Charlotte. Kristaps Porzingis missed four of his 10 free-throw attempts

Had the Celtics hit just a few more shots from the line, they'd be heading back home with their seventh straight win. Instead, they were just 18-of-28 from the line while the Hornets were a near-perfect 16-for-17. That was the difference.

Jayson Tatum's reign in Charlotte continues

Over the summer, Tatum opened up about playing with the same intensity in Charlotte that he would in a marquee matchup against a rival opponent.

"I don't decide, 'We're playing the Hornets tonight and I'ma chill,'" he said. "I only get to go to Charlotte two times a year. Somebody paid their money to come watch me play.

"Not trying to be arrogant, but it's a bunch of kids in there with my shoes and my jersey. And just because we're playing Charlotte on NBA League Pass on a Monday and ain't nobody (expletive) watching, 'Yeah, I'm chilling tonight'. That's not what the best players do."

The Duke product, who entered with four career 40+ point games vs. Charlotte, backed the statement up again on Monday night.

Tatum tied his career-high with 31 first-half points. He also became the first Celtics player on record to rack up at least 30 points and nine rebounds in a half.

The four-time All-Star went on to hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with just under a minute left in OT. And although he'd likely trade his season-high 45 points for that one missed free throw in overtime, he isn't to blame for the loss. He's the only reason the sluggish Celtics were in it to begin with.

Tatum became the second player in Celtics history to tally at least 45 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in a game. Larry Bird accomplished the feat four times.

Rough night for non-Tatum starters

While Tatum shined, the rest of the Celtics' starting lineup looked like a group on the second night of a back-to-back.

Tatum shot 15-for-28 from the floor, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range. Fellow starters Sam Hauser, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, and Jaylen Brown were a combined 16-for-51 and just 3-for-25 from deep.

Hauser, who's been scorching hot in November, was an uncharacteristic 1-for-9 from 3. Porzingis (5-14, 1-8 3-PT) looked tired after propelling the Celtics to a hard-fought win over Memphis on Sunday. Holiday had seven turnovers in addition to his two critical missed free throws. Brown was just 5-for-17 from the floor and found himself in foul trouble throughout the second half.

Perhaps we can chalk the group's poor performance to fatigue on the final night of their four-game road trip. They'll need to snap out of it when they return home to take on the Bucks on Wednesday night.

Payton Pritchard finds his groove

Pritchard has struggled from beyond the arc since his stellar preseason. Although he's found more success recently, he entered Monday's game shooting just 24.4 percent from 3.

He boosted that number with a spectacular performance in Charlotte.

Pritchard made the most of his early minutes by drilling all four of his 3-point attempts in the first quarter. Putting his early-season struggles in perspective, his fourth 3-pointer of the campaign came on his 21st attempt.

The "crypto scammer" notched a season-high 16 points in the first half alone.

With Derrick White (personal reasons) out and the rest of the roster struggling, Pritchard stepped up. He finished with 21 points (8-14 FG, 5-8 3-PT), six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

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