Jayson Tatum seems to be learning how to forget.
In a good way.
The Boston Celtics’ third-year forward, though he posted 13 points, delivered an ugly performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. He was 2-for-16 from the field, with nine of his points coming off free throws.
Saturday was a far different story.
Tatum took over the game in a 111-104 victory over the Chicago Bulls, which was the second leg of Boston’s back-to-back. He finished with a team-high 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting, grabbing seven rebounds and adding two steals as well.
Though he wouldn’t do it often, gone are the days where Tatum can hide for a couple of contests because he was struggling to find a rhythm. He now has to put bad games behind him immediately and turn the page, and that’s exactly what he did against Chicago.
He also was responsible for hitting Boston’s biggest shot of the night.
With the C’s up 105-101 with just over a minute left, Tatum had the ball at the perimeter with Kris Dunn guarding him. Tatum was guarded closely, but managed to create enough separation to get a 26-footer off, which he made with 1:06 left to effectively put the game out of reach.
“I’ve been playing against Kris for a couple years now,” Tatum said in his walk-off interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the game. “Even before he got to the league he’s been a really good on-ball defender, so I just got a good look a little bit and just tried to knock it down.”
Tatum showing an ability to lead the charge while Kemba Walker is out spells nothing but good things for Boston.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Celtics-Bulls game:
— Tatum was far from the only wing to turn in a solid night of work.
The combination of Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward accounted for 71 of Boston’s points on 28-of-42 shooting from the field. Hayward finished with 24 points, while Brown had 19.
Some of it likely is due to Walker’s absence, but Boston’s top wings coexisting like this must sit well with Brad Stevens. That’s a lot of mouths to feed in an offense, but all three figuring out a way to score while also creating chances for one another is a tremendous asset.
— Enes Kanter continues to provide a spark for the Celtics off the bench.
The big man had 17 points and a dozen (six offensive and six defensive) rebounds in 23 minutes, good for his third double-double in as many games.
The 27-year-old has been a great find by Danny Ainge so far this season. His point and rebound totals always have been nice, but his defense, a major area of weakness historically, has been adequate enough. That’s all the Celtics really can ask from him.
— With the win, the Celtics now have a one-game lead over the Miami Heat for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Boston still trails the Milwaukee Bucks by 4.5 games for the spot.