BOSTON — Celtics guard Josh Richardson was able to carry over his hot shooting in the first half into the game’s final 24 minutes, allowing the team’s stars enough time to come up big to put away another victory — and continue their best run of form this season.
Richardson scored 23 points off the bench, including knowing down six three-pointers, while Jayson Tatum made two free throws, grabbed a key defensive rebound and assisted on the game’s final field goal all in the final 35 seconds as the Celtics defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-197 at TD Garden on Wednesday afternoon. Tatum ended up with 19 points while Marcus Smart finished with 22 points and six assists as Boston has now won four of its last five games.
Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball scored a career-high 38 points and had nine assists in the loss, which sees the Hornets now just a half-game ahead of Boston for seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
With Boston going with just an eight-man rotation, Richardson sparked the sparse second unit with nine points in the second quarter, hitting 3-of-4 from three in a nip-and-tuck first half that saw the Celtics cling to a 54-53 halftime lead.
Richardson’s last three of the game came early in the fourth quarter and gave Boston a 93-84 lead with 9:38 remaining. The lead extended to 102-91 before the Hornets made a late push that was led by former Celtic Terry Rozier, who scored seven points in a 2:43 second span and hit a game-tying three 1:02 left to tie the score at 107.
Tatum gave the Celtics the lead back with two free throws before Robert Williams made the defensive play of the game for Boston by blocking a three-point attempt from the left wing by PJ Washington with 30 seconds remaining. Smart made two more free throws for Boston before a Williams dunk with five seconds to go sealed the deal.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, and after clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are XX pictures in total.