BOSTON (AP) – Jayson Tatum scored 31 points and had nine rebounds and the Boston Celtics rolled to a 139-96 win over the short-handed Brooklyn Nets early yesterday.
Jaylen Brown added 26 points as both of Boston’s stars knocked down seven three-pointers in a game the Celtics never trailed and led by as many as 49 points. Boston dominated on both ends of the floor, shooting 60 per cent through three quarters on the way to its largest victory of the season.
“You can tell we were ready to go from the jump,” Tatum said.
It marked the eighth time this season Tatum and Brown have each scored at least 25 points in the same game.
Robert Williams finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in his return from a sprained ankle. Derrick White added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“They’re hungry,” Williams said of Tatum and Brown. “They’re still (upset) about last year.”
The NBA-leading Celtics have won all three meetings with the Nets this season.
Tatum began the night second in the NBA while averaging 37.5 minutes per game. He played just over 29 and was able to sit most of the fourth quarter. Coach Joe Mazzulla said it was nice to get him some rest, but isn’t concerned about the load he has carried so far.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Cam Thomas added 19 for Brooklyn, which struggled throughout while shooting 41 per cent, including nine of 39 beyond the arc.
The Nets dropped to 4-7 since Kevin Durant sprained his right knee on January 8.
Brooklyn had managed to keep pace with Boston in the standings without Durant and through recent injuries to Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and TJ Warren (left shin contusion), who both sat for the third straight game.
The Celtics had their entire rotation available except for Marcus Smart, sidelined for the fifth straight game as he recovers from his sprained right ankle. Boston took advantage, racing to a 33-7 advantage as the Nets started just 2 of 14 from the field.
Irving missed four of his first five shots as Boston’s crowd booed whenever he touched the basketball, mirroring the treatment he received during his most recent visits to TD Garden.
Tatum finished the quarter with 18 points, single-handedly outscoring the Nets as Boston took a 46-16 edge into the second quarter.
The 30-point, first-quarter lead marked the first time in franchise history Boston outscored its opponent by 30 in the opening period.