On Friday night, the Boston Celtics righted the wrongs from their previous loss to the Chicago Bulls on October 24, taking down their conference rival 124-119 at TD Garden. DeMar DeRozan did his best to carry his team to victory, dropping 46 points in the process, but it was Boston’s own superstar who helped them take home the win.
Jayson Tatum put up 36 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists on 8-of-23 shooting from the field and 3-of-10 shooting from distance. However, it was his 17-of-20 performance from the free-throw line that stood out most.
His 20 attempts marked a career-high from the charity stripe. Tatum said that he’s learned to be more aggressive and take advantage of the in-game situations presented to him.
“Just be aggressive, I think. Just the older I get, the more my body develops, the more I’m able to take contact. And also just reading when we’re in the bonus, time, and situation of the game. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at that over the years.”
The 36-point performance marked Tatum’s second-highest scoring total of the season. However, his eight makes from the floor tied for his lowest total this season, while his 23 attempts were a season-high. It equated to a season-worst 34.8% showing from the field, but his free throws more than made up for it.
Tatum’s not just concerned with scoring. However, his rebound and assist numbers improved his season totals to 8.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. That many boards would be a career-high, while the 4.1 dimes would be just 0.3 away from matching his best mark.
He said that improving in all areas of the game is always his goal.
“Every season, I’m just trying to get better in every aspect. Just trying to be better... and impact the game all over. Offensively and on the defensive end. I think that’s contagious throughout the whole team.”
The contagious nature of his all-around game paid off against Chicago, as the Celtics were able to out-rebound and dish out more assists than the Bulls in their win.
One of the most impressive lineups of the night included Tatum, Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, Luke Kornet, and Sam Hauser. The Celtics superstar took a second to praise Hauser’s performance, in particular, but couldn’t resist throwing in a subtle joke.
“I gave Sam a lot of s*** at the beginning of the season… We know he hit some shots, we know he can shoot, but the best play he made was he got into a DHO, they blitzed it, he threw it to Luke [Kornet]. I told him, ‘Now you’re playing basketball.’”
Hauser ended the night with eight points on 2-of-4 shooting from distance, as he continued to impress. So far this year, he’s appeared in all eight of Boston’s games, averaging 12.1 minutes and 5.1 points per contest.
Tatum was also asked about an interaction he had with head coach Joe Mazzulla in the third quarter, as it seemed he was frustrated to be taken out of the game. But he said it was a “healthy upset,” explaining that he just loves to play.
“Healthy upset. [I’m] 24, I like playing. I never wanna come out of the game. They gotta tell me to take a day off… I just love playing basketball, as cliche as it is. I play in the NBA. I play basketball for a living. It’s all I dreamed about.”