Tatum the trump card for Celtics

Forward shows All-Star qualities with 39-point performance to see off Clippers in double OT

Jayson Tatum.
Jayson Tatum.

BOSTON • Being a rising star of the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum knows that he must keep both feet on the ground.

But after stepping up on Thursday night, he could barely contain himself. With his team trailing 124-123 in the final minute of overtime against the Los Angeles Clippers, he sank a lay-up to the cheers of the home crowd.

The forward then yelled and flexed his arms, before returning to the National Basketball Association (NBA) game immediately.

"I did get a little excited," the 21-year-old told ESPN.

"I try to be as calm as I can and try to keep a poker face and move on to the next play. But basketball is a game of emotions and the crowd was into it."

That play did not win the game for the Celtics but they eventually went on to beat the Clippers 141-133 in double overtime.

Tatum scored 39 points, two off his career high, and Marcus Smart added 31 as Boston improved to 38-16 while Los Angeles dropped to 37-18.

"This was a tough one," said Tatum, who hit 14-of-23 from the floor, five-of-10 from three-point range, and grabbed nine rebounds in more than 47 minutes.

"It's nice to go to the All-Star break with a win."

But he will not be getting much rest. He will be involved in tomorrow's showpiece contest in Chicago - a testament to his ascent into stardom.

His hot night came after a five-of-15 shooting effort performance against Houston on Tuesday, when he missed all seven three-point attempts.

  • 33% 

  • Celtic Jayson Tatum's shooting against the Rockets on Tuesday, when he made five of 15 shots.

  • 60% 

  • Tatum's shooting against the Clippers on Thursday, when he made 14 of 23 shots.

"Just a lot of hard work," he said of his sizzling shooting. "My teammates trust me and vice versa. We do a good job of getting the hot guy the ball, whoever it is."

Tatum struck for two late hoops in overtime, a lay-up over Kawhi Leonard with 24.8 seconds left to put Boston ahead 127-124. But Landry Shamet's three-pointer sent the game into a second extra period.

Lou Williams came off the Clippers' bench to score 35 points while Leonard had 28 points and 11 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell added 24 points and 13 rebounds.

During a break, Celtics announced that Kevin Garnett, who helped Boston capture the 2008 NBA crown, will have his No. 5 jersey retired next season, the 24th former player so honoured by the club.

He was the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA All-Star in five of his six seasons with the Celtics. In 396 games for Boston, Garnett averaged 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks a game.

In the only other game last night, forward Danilo Gallinari scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting to lead the Oklahoma City to a 123-118 victory at New Orleans.

German reserve Dennis Schroder added 22, New Zealand centre Steven Adams contributed 11 points - including his first NBA three-pointer - and 11 rebounds and Chris Paul had 14 points and 12 assists for the Thunder.

Pelicans rookie star Zion Williamson scored a game-high 32 points in his 10th NBA contest while J.J. Redick added 24 points off the bench.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'Tatum the trump card for Celtics'. Subscribe