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Jayson Tatum leads shorthanded Celtics past Raptors, 126-114

Tatum falls just shy of his career-best scoring output.

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

With the Boston Celtics down two guards in Marcus Smart and Jeff Teague, who sat out Monday’s matchup versus the Toronto Raptors due to injury, the C’s needed someone to carry a larger load.

And that job was fitting for a star to take on.

Jayson Tatum put together another prolific performance to lead the way, netting 26 of his game-high 40 points — one shy of his career high — in the first half as Boston took down Toronto, X-X, to improve to 5-3. The Raptors had no answer for the All-Star forward as Tatum shot 11-for-19 from the floor, including 5-for-8 from deep, but more importantly Tatum asserted himself with aggressive drives to consistently get to the free-throw line, where he went a perfect 13-for-13.

Tatum exploded in the second quarter, scoring 21 points in the frame as Boston closed the stanza on a dominant 25-6 tear to seize control after a dismal start, in which Toronto came out scorching hot from beyond the arc and took a 17-5 lead just four minutes into the contest. Boston outscored Toronto 38-14 in the second quarter to take a 61-46 halftime lead. It wasn’t just Tatum spearheading the second-quarter tear as Payton Pritchard, who earned 32 minutes in the absence of Smart and Teague, was highly effective once again off the bench as he scored 23 points and dished out 8 assists.

Boston’s reserves had their fingerprints all over the win as along with Pritchard, Semi Ojeleye played a key role by knocking down 3-of-5 3-pointers en route to 12 points while also grabbing eight rebounds. Grant Williams also compiled a strong showing by totaling 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Rob Williams was the fourth and final member of the second unit to notch double figures in scoring as Williams notched 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown was his usual steady self as he tallied 19 points.

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