Celtics-Hornets takeaways: Pritchard leads C’s reserves to dominant win

Celtics-Hornets takeaways: Pritchard leads C’s reserves to dominant win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics’ reserves got a chance to shine in Friday night’s showdown with the Charlotte Hornets, and they took advantage of their opportunity.

With the top six out for the penultimate game of their regular season, the C’s went with a starting lineup of Payton Pritchard, Svi Mykhailiuk, Jaden Springer, Sam Hauser, and Luke Kornet. Neemias Queta, Jordan Walsh, JD Davison, and Drew Peterson were recalled from Maine to get minutes on the big stage.

The “Stay Ready” group put on an offensive clinic in their 131-98 rout of the Hornets. Pritchard led the way with a career-high 31 points. Hauser, Kornet, and Queta chipped in 16 apiece. All 11 Celtics scored in the lopsided victory.

The C’s will wrap up their regular season against the Washington Wizards on “Mike Gorman Day” this Sunday at TD Garden. The game is set to tip off at 1 p.m. ET right here on NBC Sports Boston.

First, here are three takeaways from Friday’s action.

Payton Pritchard plays the starring role

On many other NBA rosters, Pritchard would be a regular starter. And a good one at that.

The Celtics’ prized bench guard showed his potential again in his fourth start of the season. Leading the reserves with the top six sidelined, Pritchard went off for 13 points and five assists in the first quarter. It was the highest-scoring opening frame of his NBA career and according to Celtics stats guru Dick Lipe, he became the first C’s player since Isaiah Thomas in Jan. 2017 with 13 points and five assists in a first quarter.

Pritchard scored or assisted on 24 of the Celtics’ first 30 points. He stayed hot in the second quarter to enter the half with 23 points and nine assists. He’s the first Celtic in the play-by-play era with those numbers in the first half of a game, per Dick Lipe.

Pritchard finished with a career-high 31 points (14-21 FG), accomplishing the feat with three minutes left in the third quarter. He dished 11 assists — two shy of his career-high — while adding two rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes.

The Mainers get some minutes

Friday’s game presented the perfect opportunity to give the Maine Celtics standouts more time on the TD Garden parquet. Recent draft picks Jordan Walsh and JD Davison joined the team along with Drew Peterson and Neemias Queta, who signed a full NBA contract earlier this week.

Walsh, Boston’s lone pick in the 2023 draft, recorded the first made 3-pointer of his NBA career early in the game:

He notched eight points (3-4 FG), three rebounds, and a steal in 20 minutes.

Davison, a second-round pick in 2022, showed off his playmaking ability with seven assists in 17 minutes. He also tallied seven points (3-7 FG) and four rebounds.

Queta, the star of Maine’s G League Finals Game 1 win on Tuesday, led the bench with 16 points on 8-of-10 from the floor. In addition, he had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 18 minutes.

Peterson logged the first points of his Celtics career during the fourth quarter. The sharpshooter ended with eight points (3-4 FG) in 12 minutes.

The Maine Celtics will play the decisive Game 3 of the G League Finals on Monday against the Oklahoma City Blue.

Bounce-back effort on the boards

The Celtics have struggled in the rebounding department lately, including in their last two losses to Milwaukee and New York. Perhaps some of their issues can be attributed to a lack of effort in meaningless regular-season games and the playoffs looming.

The reserves didn’t lack effort Friday against Charlotte, however. They dominated the boards 53-33, including 16 offensive rebounds to the Hornets’ four. They had an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Kornet contributed 10 rebounds to go with his 16 points, marking his first double-double since 2019. Oshae Brissett brought the energy off the bench, racking up a whopping 11 boards (six offensive) in 15 minutes. He added eight points, an assist, and a steal.

Jaden Springer chipped in six rebounds in an outstanding defensive performance that included three steals. He also got the job done on the offensive end with 11 points.

The Celtics regulars will look to replicate the reserves’ effort when the playoffs get underway later this month.

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