Tatum scores 51, Celtics beat Hornets for 7th straight win

Jayson Tatum had 51 points, including seven 3-pointers, and the Boston Celtics defeated the Charlotte Hornets for the second time in three days, 130-118 on Monday, for their seventh straight victory.

Derrick White added 19 points and eight assists and Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 for the Celtics, who improved to 33-12 on the season — maintaining the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Tatum was 15 of 23 from the field and 14 of 14 from the foul line.

Jalen McDaniels led the Hornets with a career-high 26 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. LaMelo Ball concluded with 25 points on 8-of-23 shooting. Mason Plumlee had perhaps his best all-around game of the season, with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Hornets (11-34), who’ve lost eight of their last nine games.

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The Celtics set the tone early, jumping out to a 35-22 lead in the first quarter after holding the Hornets to 28.6% shooting from the floor.

The Celtics, meanwhile, hit 6 of 13 3s in the first quarter. Boston finished with 20 3-pointers.

Charlotte cut the lead to 100-98 early in the fourth quarter, but White was fouled by Dennis Smith Jr. on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws.

A short while later, the Celtics got three long offensive rebounds before White grabbed the ball and drove to the rim and scored to increase the lead with 6:34 left, causing Hornets coach Steve Clifford to punch the air in frustration.

Tatum took over from there.

He drilled a step-back 3 from the top of the key over Smith to push the lead to 10 and put away the game with a long 3 with 1:02 left. Then, at the crowd’s urging for him to get to 50 points, Tatum canned a 3 from left wing with 38 seconds left and the crowd erupted into chants of “MVP! MVP!”

Tatum had 17 points in the fourth quarter.

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