Willie J. Allen Jr./AP
The Celtics are likely to be shorthanded for a second consecutive game Friday as they go for an 11th straight win against the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
Rookie forward Jayson Tatum had an MRI on his right ankle Thursday and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he had no further information on Tatum’s status. But the team is expected to be cautious with the Duke product, especially so early in the season.
Tatum has sparkled early in his rookie year, averaging 13.5 points (fourth on the Celtics) and 6.0 rebounds (third). He left Wednesday’s 107-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers after playing nine minutes because of ankle soreness.
An X-ray late Thursday showed no structural damage, good news for a team that is trying to remain healthy after the likely season-ending injury to swingman Gordon Hayward. The team is officially listing Tatum as questionable for Friday.
Power forward Al Horford is likely to miss his second consecutive game as he remains in the league’s concussion protocol. Horford will have to pass a series of tests from an independent doctor in order to be cleared again for basketball activities.
He missed nine games early last season after a collision with teammate Tyler Zeller caused a concussion.
Horford is averaging 14.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists through his first 11 games and has been one of the central figures behind the Celtics’ resurgence after the injury to Hayward.
Marcus Morris replaced Horford at power forward during Thursday’s win and he scored a season-high 18 points.
Coach Brad Stevens is using backup point guard Shane Larkin in key moments. He played six minutes late in the game as the Lakers were trying to rally, the second consecutive time Larkin has played key fourth-quarter minutes.
“If I was Shane, I’d be pretty mad at me — he should be mad at me because I didn’t put him in until the fourth quarter in the Orlando game and this game,” Stevens said.
“That’s like one of the hardest jobs in the world, is to sit there and then just get thrown into the middle of a close game and have to impact it. But we just think with Shane’s speed, he can really impact the ball. And so you know with Terry [Rozier], Marcus [Smart], and Shane out there, you’ve got a lot of speed on the court. And, we had to take Jaylen [Brown] out, after playing the whole third.”
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