Jayson Tatum is a star (despite what Nick Wright may think), and he continued to prove that Tuesday night.
The Celtics forward dropped 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting (8-of-12 from deep) in Boston’s 118-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He hasn’t missed a beat since appearing in his first All-Star Game, and it’s hard to argue with head coach Brad Stevens when he said the “best part” of Tatum’s game is that he’s only gotten better since the event.
Tatum’s performance Tuesday put him one step closer to entering Celtics history (again) this season. The 36 points marked his 10th game with at least 30. Only Antoine Walker has more with 11 at age 21, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Jayson Tatum now has his 10th 30-point game of the season.
Only Antoine Walker (11 in 1997-98) had more 30-point games by a Celtics player in his age-21 season (or younger) in team history. pic.twitter.com/ibBPP8hKy4
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 26, 2020
“I’m just trying to play free,” Tatum told Abby Chin on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “Go out there and do what I love. I love coming here and playing basketball with my guys and trying to win. Hopefully we keep winning.”
0⃣is on pic.twitter.com/P4Ne8FIGVb
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 26, 2020
Tatum’s eight 3-pointers also marked a career-high for the forward, and had 26 of his points in the second half. So, what was his secret to his strong third and fourth quarters?
“Just trying to be patient,” he told Chin. “Try to get good looks. I can’t thank (Daniel) Theis enough. Theis does a great job getting myself and other guys open for easy looks.”
Kemba Walker is the only other Celtic on the 2019-20 squad that has 10 games with 30 or more points.
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Celtics-Trail Blazers game:
— Tatum did not attempt a free throw in Tuesday’s contest. According to Celtics Stats, he’s just the second NBA player to notch at least 36 points without doing so.
The other? Marcus Smart on Jan. 18 against the Phoenix Suns.
— Jaylen Brown had the second-most points for Boston with 24. Stevens praised the chemistry of Brown and Tatum after the game.
“They’re really great complements. They really are,” he said, per the team. “They’ve done a great job playing off of one another.”
— The Celtics finished their first half shooting 11-for-22 from 3-point range.
— Brad Wanamaker had a bounce-back game after an ugly performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Wanamaker had just two points at Staples Center.
— Tatum credited Theis in getting him and his teammates open, something Stevens called “unselfish.”
“He’s been great,” the head coach said on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “His screening angles … very unselfish, he does a lot of unselfish things. … We appreciate all that stuff as much as everyone appreciates the stats.”
Theis finished the game with 10 points to go with nine rebounds.
— Boston gets right back to it Wednesday night when it travels to Utah to take on the Jazz. Tip-off from Vivint Smart Home Arena is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.