SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jayson Tatum took over the game when Boston needed his offence. Then his teammates finished the job in the fourth quarter.
Tatum had 33 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Celtics over the skidding Utah Jazz 114-103 yesterday.
He matched Donovan Mitchell shot for shot during the second quarter after Mitchell sparked the Jazz offence. The two third-year players combined for 16 baskets and 38 points over that 12-minute stretch.
“It was fun to watch,” Boston guard Marcus Smart said. “It was fun to be a part of. It’s always good when you have guys going as hard as those guys were going tonight.”
For Tatum, it marked his third consecutive game with at least 30 points while shooting 60 per cent or better from the field. Kevin McHale was the last player to accomplish that feat, in March 1987. Tatum went 13 of 20 from the floor overall and made three three-pointers.
His efforts helped the Celtics finish 3-1 on a road trip out West.
“This was big for our team,” Tatum said. “This is a tough place to play. It’s a great way to end a road trip. We could have made excuses on a back-to-back, but we didn’t.”
Tatum’s efficiency and explosiveness on offence rubbed off on his teammates. Jaylen Brown added 20 points and Smart had 17 for Boston. All five starters scored in double figures.
Mitchell scored 37 points to lead Utah. Mike Conley chipped in with 15 and Royce O’ Neale added 14 for the Jazz, who lost their fourth straight game — all at home.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, Boston created some separation early in the fourth. The Celtics broke an 82-all tie on a three-pointer from Gordon Hayward in the final minute of the third. Smart then made three outside shots and Enes Kanter had three baskets in the paint to help Boston extend its lead to 100-87 with 7:22 left.
“We competed defensively,” Mitchell said. “I think we can hang our hats on that. But now it’s about sustaining that for 48 minutes. I don’t think we should be upset at our effort, just little mistakes that we can fix. They’re a good team. They’re going to capitalise if you make mistakes.”