December 23, 2019 / 1:42 AM / a month ago

Tatum explodes for 39 as Celtics pull away from Hornets

Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 39 points, Kemba Walker added 23 against his former team and the Boston Celtics beat the visiting Charlotte Hornets 119-93 Sunday night.

Dec 22, 2019; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Willy Hernangomez (9) shoots the ball prior to a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Brown had 16 points, Grant Williams chipped in 12 and Enes Kanter contributed 13 rebounds as the Celtics won their third straight. Tatum, who also had 12 rebounds, scored 22 points in the fourth quarter alone to eclipse his previous career best of 34 set in January.

Devonte’ Graham scored 23 points, and Bismack Biyombo had 18 for the Hornets, who have lost four of their last five. Charlotte was playing the second night of a back-to-back.

Walker was held to 14 points last month when he visited Charlotte for the first time as a Celtic after eight seasons with the Hornets. He eclipsed that total in the first half alone, scoring 15 as Boston led by three at the break.

The Celtics expanded their advantage to 10, 72-62, on a Semi Ojeleye 3-pointer with 7:49 to go in the third quarter. The Hornets battled back with an 11-3 run to get as close as two, but Walker drained a three to kick off a 7-0 spurt for Boston for an 82-73 advantage.

The Celtics entered the fourth up 84-77, and from there it was all Tatum as Boston ran its lead as high as 26 at the buzzer. Tatum, who outscored Charlotte 22-16 in the quarter, eclipsed his personal mark when he drained a trey for a 110-88 lead with 4:28 to go.

The Hornets led 45-37 with 8:12 remaining in the second quarter before the Celtics responded with an 8-2 run to get within two. Charlotte was able to maintain its lead until a Walker 3-pointer put Boston up 57-56 with 39.8 seconds remaining.

The Celtics would enter halftime up 59-56. Graham paced all scorers with 19.

Graham had 17 points and sunk five 3-pointers as the Hornets led 37-30 after one.

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