BOSTON — Jayson Tatum put the Boston Celtics on his back during a second-quarter stretch, which ultimately helped the hosts take over the game, in their 119-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday at TD Garden.
Tatum scored 10 of his game-high 23 points during the nearly seven-minute stretch. The Celtics forward knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, connected on a pull-up jumper and was on the receiving end of a highlight-reel dunk assisted by teammate Marcus Smart.
“He scored a bunch of buckets there in a row and pushed it out,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said of Tatum spearheading the Celtics’ 23-2 run over the final 6:53 of the second.
Tatum provided the kick-out assist as teammate Daniel Theis connected on his first of two 3-pointers to start the run, as well.
“He was extremely focused on getting to the rim, as he should be, and then it’s about what we talked about prior to the game, rim reads,” Stevens said. “He’s got good at playing off two feet, at finishing, at making the right reads, and kick outs and those type of things.
“This is all a process,” Stevens added. “He grows by the minute and he just does so many things that are ridiculously good that, you know, obviously when he improves in an area it happens quickly.”
Tatum finished with the 23 points in just 26 minutes as he shot 9-for-18 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. He chipped in seven rebounds and four assists.
Celtics teammate Kemba Walker has been impressed with Tatum’s progress. Walker said Tatum, like he did Wednesday, has shown the ability to take over the game when it’s needed.
“I’m trying to encourage him more to do so,” Walker said. “He’s just got to become that killer, which he is.
“It’s so fun to watch. You know, him and Jaylen (Brown), it’s so fun to be a part of their growth,” Walker said. “But Jayson, he’s getting better and better each and every game. Like I said, I’m just trying to have him embrace when it’s time to take those games (over).”
Tatum left the game in the third quarter with a right groin strain. With the game seemingly decided, he was ruled not to return. However Stevens said after the game he was not too concerned the injury was anything serious.