After offering a dazzling performance on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Lakers, Jayson Tatum logged another stellar night for the Celtics against the Portland Trail Blazers. The third-year forward notched a new career high in made three-pointers, going 8-12 from downtown. He was 14-22 overall, totaling 36 points. He added 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, doing it all, miraculously, without earning a trip to the foul line.
36 points for Tatum with a career-best 8 three-pointers made.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 26, 2020
There’s only one other Celtic this season who’s pulled off a no-free-throw feat like this.
Jayson Tatum is the second player in the NBA this season to score at least 36 points without attempting a free throw— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) February 26, 2020
The other? Marcus Smart (37 pts, Jan. 18 vs. PHX)
Tatum drained number eight against a flagging Carmelo Anthony, who’d already been lulled to sleep by Boston’s young star earlier in the second half. This beauty was the latest in a slew of side-step treys that Tatum’s swished in the eyes of defenders—legends and current stars alike—all over the league.
Jayson Tatum cannot be stopped pic.twitter.com/a2aqelj0gP— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) February 26, 2020
As it was with Lebron James, who tipped his cap to Tatum on Instagram after Sunday’s nail-biter, watching Tatum drop threes on Anthony underscored the 21 year-old’s transition from promising wing to new NBA superstar. And as if to put his stamp of approval on the succession, Anthony agreed to trade jerseys with Tatum after the game.
“I love him. He’s a guy that is establishing himself as we’re all witnessing, we’re all watching,” said Anthony. “I love his game, I love watching him play.”
Tatum was just paying respect to the great NBA players that have come before him. Though tonight was all about Tatum’s proficiency from downtown, there are flashes of Anthony’s low-block savvy in his game. The treys are in the highlights tonight, but the patience in the paint and sweet post moves are there, too.
“Oh man. Besides Kobe, Melo’s probably one of my top three favorite players. I studied him so much growing up. I’m one of his biggest fans,” Tatum said of the exchange.
The Celtics All-Star stay supportive in humble in post-game interviews. He tipped his cap to Boston center Daniel Theis, who all season long has expertly sealed opposing big men out of the paint to allow Tatum clean looks at the rim.
Jaylen Brown said he told Daniel Theis he wants to get him a gift — maybe a watch — because of how often Theis gets Tatum open.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 26, 2020
And likewise, Tatum’s teammates stayed supportive.
“Right now he’s playing unreal. He’s playing the best ball of his career,” said Jaylen Brown. Brown, who was also in the conversation for a spot at All-Star weekend, has only offered praise and encouragement for his teammate. “You gotta want for your brother what you want for yourself,” he said.
Jaylen Brown talking about Tatum: "You've got to want for your brother what you want for yourself." pic.twitter.com/AzxTimPG2P— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 26, 2020
Tatum returned the compliment to Brown, who put his own efficient line against the Trail Blazers: 24 points, 7 rebounds, and two assists on 8-19 shooting.
“We’ve both kind of taken leaps this year, so it’s been fun,” said Tatum.
The St. Louis native’s leap has been particularly special to watch since he earned himself a spot in the 2019-2020 All-Star Game. Through 53 games, Tatum is averaging 23.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on 44.9% FG and 39.5 3P%, while playing about 34 minutes per game. That’s up from 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 2018-2019.
Catch more Tatum (and Brown) when the Celtics take on the Utah Jazz on the second night of their back-to-back tomorrow in Salt Lake City.