Jayson Tatum scored 23 points, Kemba Walker added 14 in his return to Charlotte, and the Boston Celtics cruised past the host Hornets 108-87 Thursday night.
Gordon Hayward added 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Celtics won their sixth straight. Jaylen Brown chipped in 12 points after missing the team’s previous three games due to an illness.
Miles Bridges had 18 points, and Devonte’ Graham added 15 for the Hornets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Terry Rozier, playing against Boston for the first time after four seasons with the Celtics, was held to three points on 1-of-11 shooting.
Walker, drafted ninth overall by the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2011, played his first eight seasons with the club before signing with the Celtics as a free agent over the offseason. The Charlotte franchise’s all-time scoring leader, Walker was recognized with a video tribute before the game.
Despite the Celtics holding a nine-point lead at the half, Walker was 0-for-6 from the field to that point. He got his first basket, a layup, with 9:08 on the clock in the third quarter.
Walker added a 3-pointer with 7:15 left as Boston began the third on a 14-5 run. He nailed another pair of treys later in the quarter, the second giving the Celtics a 75-59 advantage with 2:51 to go.
Boston took its first 20-point lead on a Tatum 3-pointer with 4.2 ticks left in the quarter and entered the fourth up 85-67 after a buzzer-beating alley-oop finish from the Hornets’ Cody Martin.
The Celtics led by as much as 24 in the fourth.
Trailing by 14 in the second quarter, the Hornets used a 15-5 run to get within four on a Bridges dunk with 3:43 left. The Celtics responded with 11 unanswered points to take their largest lead of the half, 52-37, with 1:03 to go.
Boston went into halftime up 52-43. Hayward led all scorers with 16 points, and Bridges had 14 for Charlotte.
Hayward had 14 points as the Celtics led 30-20 after the first quarter.