CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Derrick White was all smiles a couple of days after sustaining what initially looked to be a serious neck injury. His collision with teammate Marcus Smart four minutes into the Celtics’ win Saturday over the Hornets sent him to the locker room for examination.
He was scratched for the remainder of that game but bounced back quickly, starting for the Celtics in their MLK Day rematch with the Hornets at Spectrum Center. White turned in one of his better scoring games of the season, collecting 19 points with 8 assists in the 130-118 win.
On Saturday, White was looking to pass in front of the Celtics bench and bent over with the ball just as Smart was trying to pass him, and the 230-pound Smart rammed into White’s head and neck area. White lay on the court for several moments before being helped to the locker room.
He recovered quickly, being available Monday with no restrictions.
“It was like a stinger, whiplash, but I started feeling better later on,” he said. “It hurt. I really didn’t know what was going on but the training staff came and they were asking questions about whether I could move everything. I never worried about that because I knew I could move everything, but then after that it was to try to figure out what’s next.”
White said Smart apologized for the collision.
“I knew it was Smart that hit me, actually,” White said. “It was kind of a freak accident. It was kind of a weird play, and stuff like that happens from time to time, and thankfully I’m all right. I was pretty stiff and sore but I feel good, moving my head, no pain, so I’m good now.”
Smart said he was concerned during the game until he found out White was structurally fine.
“It was a scary moment for me,” Smart said. “I’ve had a similar injury like that, in pickup, where I got whiplash.
“It was an awkward movement. I definitely felt bad, especially when he went down and especially it being me that caused it. It just sucked because I was trying to get out of his way by going out of bounds and he got pushed right into me at the perfect time.”
Brown’s status unclear
Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said guard Jaylen Brown continues to progress back in Boston but he has no idea whether Brown will be available for Thursday’s showdown with the Warriors. Brown was injured during the Jan. 11 win over the Pelicans with right adductor tightness and Mazzulla said he could miss a week or two.
Charlotte’s Gordon Hayward missed his seventh consecutive game with left hamstring tightness. He has played against his former team only twice since signing with the Hornets in 2020, missing eight games versus the Celtics in that span because of injury.
Hayward’s three-year tenure in Boston was plagued by injury, of course, including the ghastly broken tibia and dislocated ankle he suffered in his first game of the 2017 season.
Brogdon a big shot
Malcolm Brogdon continued his January upsurge beyond the arc. He was 4 for 8 from the 3-point line, making him 21 for 37 in his past seven games. Brogdon shot a blazing 54 percent from the 3-point line in November but tailed off to 34.7 percent in December. He’s back up to 51.2 percent this month.
And he flourished Monday despite taking a LaMelo Ball tooth to his forehead during a second-period collision. Brogdon had to be removed to have the gash treated but he returned without stitches and logged 27:28 overall.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford was complimentary of Brogdon after his 30-point performance Saturday.
“They had us on our heels, and to be honest, Brogdon was the biggest one,” he said. “He crushed our coverages, just crushed it. Every switch, he’s done it for years, he just attacks. He’s so strong and such a good finisher, he was at the rim. Malcolm was just at the rim and he created so much havoc for our defense.”
The 14 free throws made by Jayson Tatum were the most he has converted in his career without a miss. He raised his free throw percentage to 86.6 percent, second highest in his career … The Hornets also were without swingman Cody Martin, who had left knee soreness.