LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Jayson Tatum’s 41 points and Boston’s 25 three-pointers propelled the league-leading Celtics to a 40th win of the National Basketball Association season on Friday, 127-116 over the Charlotte Hornets.
Tatum posted his eighth 40-point game of the season. But with Jaylen Brown sidelined by a facial fracture and Al Horford out with a sore knee he didn’t have to carry the offensive load alone.
Derrick White scored a career-high 33 points and handed out 10 assists. His output included eight of the Celtics’ 25 three-pointers, which came on 55 attempts.
“Shot was feeling good,” White said. “I was getting some good looks and just letting it fly.”
Less than a minute into the contest Sam Hauser and White drilled back-to-back three-pointers and the Celtics cruised from there.
They had a franchise-record 16 three-pointers in the first half, and even when the Hornets put together a 15-0 scoring run in the third quarter the Celtics’ lead remained in double digits.
Tatum drained five from beyond the arc, and became the first NBA player to make 1,000 three-pointers before his 25th birthday.
“He’s locked in,” White said of his 24-year-old teammate. “He took his game to another level this season. It’s been fun to see, fun to play with. He just makes the right play every time down.”
Things were much closer in Miami, where Jimmy Butler jammed home the game-winner with three-tenths of a second remaining in the Heat’s 97-95 victory over the Houston Rockets.