Tatum stings Hornets for 7th straight win

Jayson Tatum scored 51 points, including seven triples, as Boston beat Charlotte for the second time in three days for their seventh straight victory.

Derrick White added 19 points and eight assists and Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 on Monday for the Celtics, who improved to 33-12 on the season with the 130-118 win to maintain the best record in the Eastern Conference.

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

"He makes me look like a better coach," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Jalen McDaniels led the Hornets with a career-high 26 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range. LaMelo Ball finished with 25 points on 8-of-23 shooting for the Hornets (11-34), who've lost eight of their last nine games.

Boston hit six of 13 threes in the first quarter and finished with 20 from beyond the arc.

Charlotte cut the lead to 100-98 early in the fourth but Tatum took over.

He drilled a step-back three to push the lead to 10 and put away the game with a long triple with 1:02 left. Then, at the crowd's urging for him to get to 50 points, Tatum canned a three from left wing and the crowd erupted into chants of "MVP! MVP!"

"I hear them and just being in North Carolina, it all feels a little more special, having gone to school two hours away," Tatum, who spent one season at Duke before entering the NBA draft, said.

"Coming here feels like I'm back home a little bit."

In Milwaukee, there was no two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) for the third straight game or Australia's Joe Ingles (rested), but the Bucks were still strong enough to see off the Indiana Pacers 132-119.

The hosts improved to 28-16, four-and-a-half games behind Boston in the East along with the Brooklyn Nets, thanks to a third straight double-double from Jrue Holiday (season-high 35 points and 11 assists), 21 points and 11 rebounds from Bobby Portis and 19 points from Brook Lopez.

Holiday shot 13 of 19 overall and five of eight from three-point range.

"Just taking the game over and taking it into his own hands, that's what stars do," Portis said of Holiday.

Milwaukee went 23 of 46 from outside for their highest total of threes this season.

Cleveland are a half-game behind after their 113-103 home win over the West's third-ranked New Orleans Pelicans.

Darius Garland scored 30 points, Jarrett Allen added 24 and the Cavaliers rallied in the fourth quarter to overcome the Pels (26-18) who were again without stars Zion Williamson (hamstring) and Brandon Ingram (toe).

In Washington, Golden State had a big final term to see off the Wizards.

Steph Curry scored 41 points and Jordan Poole added 32 to help the wobbling defending champion Warriors (22-22) win 127-118.

Draymond Green had 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

In Los Angeles, LeBron James had a season-high 48 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in his third 40-point performance since turning 38 less than three weeks ago, as the LA Lakers snapped a three-game skid with a 140-132 victory over the Houston Rockets.

James was brilliant in the 100th 40-point outing of his career, including the postseason, as he scored his 38,000th career point.

Elsewhere there were wins for Atlanta, Utah, Memphis and Toronto after overtime in New York.

With AP.