The Boston Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak yesterday as 21-year-old forward Tatum enjoyed a career-night in the 140-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Tatum only needed 31 minutes over three quarters to present his campaign at TD Garden, shooting 16-of-22 from the field and 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Along with the sharp-shooting, he snatched six rebounds, three steals, and four assists.
This was Tatum's first 40+ point game as he surpassed a previous career-high of 39 points made in November. He consistently added points to energise the offence, hitting 22 in the first half alone to secure a 72-57 edge.
The third-year forward is off to a flying start in 2020, averaging 20.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as he becomes the youngest ever player to score over 40 points for Boston. Regardless of his All-Star performance, Tatum remains humble and realistic about his progress in a post-game interview:
"I never get too high or too low when I play well or if I don't. For me, I feel like I got a long way to go. And the guys I look up to, they have nights like this more often than not. ... I'm just gonna try to do it more often, be consistent, and continue to get better."
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However, Tatum was just one cog in a very efficient Celtics team who took control from the outset with a 41-24 lead in the first quarter. The roster shot at a steady 52.7 percent from the field in the first half and 55 percent by the end of regulation.
Gordon Hayward (19), Jaylen Brown (13), Enes Kanter (22), and Kemba Walker (17) all hit double-digits - added to Tatum's 41 points, they easily outscored New Orleans. The Celtics 140 tally is also the most points scored by an NBA team so far this year.
Although SportsBookWire foreshadowed a Pelicans loss, the deficit was heavily underestimated as the injury-plagued team seemed stunned by Boston's command. New Orleans won their last five games against teams with losing records so a sloppy 16 turnovers and 14 Boston steals came as a shock to the system.
Speaking in a post-game interview, coach Alvin Gentry said:
"We just never got any traction, offensively or defensively. They took us out of just about everything we tried to do. ... We just never got into any kind of rhythm. Obviously, being short-handed against a team that's desperate and has the ability to play at the level that they played at is just not a good thing."
Starting guard Jrue Holiday (elbow), centre Derrick Favours (hamstring) and guard JJ Redick (hamstring), were all out last night and star offensive forward Brandon Ingram was held to a disappointing 16 points.
New Orleans now look forward to a comeback against the Detroit Pistons tomorrow who have resorted to their younger bench players in the midst of their own injury-plagued spell. Meanwhile, thanks to Tatum, the Celtics improve their record to 26-11 and face the Chicago Bulls at home tomorrow.News Now - Sport News