Tatum’s 45 not enough as Hornets top Celtics in overtime 121-118

The Boston Celtics fell to the Charlotte Hornets in overtime Monday night, losing 121-118 on the road. This snaps the team’s six-game win streak as Boston drops to 11-3 on the season. The Celtics must now prepare to host the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden Wednesday night.

Free throw shooting may have been the nail in the coffin for Boston. Although Jayson Tatum finished the game with 45 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, he missed a critical foul shot with just seconds remaining in overtime, sealing a Charlotte victory. As a team, the Celtics shot 18-for-28 from the free throw line in a game. To make matters worse, Boston’s scoring attack went cold in the second half, giving the plucky Hornets a chance to roar back and grab a win.

Here’s what you need to know about Boston’s overtime loss in Charlotte Monday evening.

Boston's offense

The Celtics got out to a hot start in Charlotte, with Tatum squarely leading the way. The former Duke Blue Devil dropped 31 points in the first half alone. As such, Boston led by as many as 18.

The second half was a different story entirely. Across the final two periods, the Celtics managed just 43 points. The scoring effort became awkward, forced, and lacking in continuity. This allowed Charlotte to roar back into contention. The Hornets ended regulation on a 9-0 run to force overtime.

Tatum’s big scoring numbers hides what was a clunky offensive effort down the stretch for the All-NBA forward and his Celtics teammates. Shooting 32% from 3 as a team didn’t help this cause.

Boston's defense

Boston’s defense made things more difficult than necessary. This was especially true in the second half. As the Celtics struggled to score, the Hornets took advantage of hot shooting and open looks. In the fourth quarter in particular this was especially true, and Charlotte looked faster and more composed with the game on the line.

For example, the Hornets grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. Charlotte is a young, athletic team that likes to push the pace, and this led to plenty of extra looks for the home team. LaMelo Ball in particular thrived in this paradigm, scoring 36 points to go with 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

Boston was without Al Horford and Derrick White in this one. Even the best teams look a little different with their core players out of the lineup. That said, this is another instance where the Celtics lacked composure when the going got tough, unraveling what ought to have been an easy enough path to victory.

Final thoughts

Monday was the second road game in as many nights for the Celtics, and the fifth tilt in a week. Fatigue certainly played a factor for Boston. It’s also not worth over-indexing a loss in November. Kudos to Tatum for the scoring effort.

Still, there were some familiar trends on display in Charlotte. The Celtics will need to play with more focus and poise against the visiting Bucks Wednesday evening to avoid a similar fate.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire