Celtics Wrap: Jayson Tatum Returns, Helps Boston Beat Bulls In Balanced Effort

Boston moves to 10-6 on the season


January 25, 2021

The Boston Celtics put together a balanced offensive performance and held the Chicago Bulls below their scoring average en route to a 119-103 victory at United Center on Monday.

Jayson Tatum was impressive in his first game back after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 2 1/2 weeks ago. He played 31 minutes and scored 24 points on 10-for-21 from the field with four rebounds and five assists. Tatum was one of four starters who scored double figures.

Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 26 points. It was Brown’s fifth straight game with 25 or more points.

Marcus Smart contributed to the cause with a double-double (13 points and 11 assists). Daniel Theis added 19 points.

Boston shot 50 percent from the field (44-for-87) and 52 percent from 3-point range (15-for-29).

Chicago was led by Zach LaVine, who scored a game-high 30 points.

Boston improved to 10-6 with the win while Chicago dropped to 7-10 in the loss.

Here’s how it all went down:

G: Marcus Smart
G: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Tristan Thompson
C: Daniel Theis

The Celtics got off to a hot start, hitting seven of their first nine shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. And it helped Boston take a 33-25 lead after the opening 12 minutes.

Smart scored a team-high 10 points in the first quarter while Tatum contributed seven points in the opening four minutes.

Brown added nine points on four-for-six from the field, as well. He continued to perform well on both ends, showing his burst into the paint and ability to hit tough shots.

The Celtics’ biggest lead of the quarter was nine points after finishing the quarter shooting 54% from the field (13-for-24). Chicago was 10-for-22 from the field but was just three-for-eight from long range and a troubling 25% from the free-throw line (two-for-eight). Thaddeus Young and LaVine each scored eight first-quarter points.

Boston held a 16-9 edge in rebounds and scored nine points off turnovers. The C’s defensive intensity resulted in three steals in the second.

Carsen Edwards, who finished with six points in 12 minutes, was Boston’s first man off the bench.

Four of the five Celtics starters — Theis, Smart, Brown, Tatum –scored double figures in the first half alone. It propelled Boston to a 60-50 advantage at the intermission. Boston shot 48% from the floor and nearly 42% from long range (5-for-12).

The Celtics went nearly 10 minutes without committing a second-quarter turnover, and they were able to build their biggest lead of the game to that point (11). The Bulls, on the other hand, committed 10 first-half turnovers.

Smart finished on a traditional three-point play to give Boston a 54-43 advantage with under three minutes left in the half. The veteran guard had 13 points on four-for-five shooting with six assists and three rebounds to that point.

Tatum was a welcome sight during the first half. The All-NBA wing attacked the rim, finished high of the glass and showcased a nifty spin move on the low block. It led to 11 first-half points for Tatum.

Aaron Nesmith showed his shot-making ability in the second quarter, as well. The rookie connected on both of his three-point attempts in the quarter, chipping in six points off the bench.

And then there was Theis, who scored 10 points with three rebounds.

Chicago shot 46% from the field while hitting eight of 18 three-point attempts. LaVine scored a team-high 11 points for the Bulls.

The rather unfamiliar happened Monday as the Celtics, who seem to always have third-quarter troubles, extended their lead heading into the fourth.

It came as Boston opened the second half with an 11-0 run, taking a 21-point lead before holding a 91-76 advantage headed into the fourth. Chicago didn’t score a basket for the opening 3:30 of the quarter.

Brown scored 14 of his then-25 points in the third quarter, shooting 50 percent from the field. Theis added seven points in the frame while contributing a key block and three steals on the other end.

Tatum contributed six points in the quarter while Nesmith converted his third 3-pointer of the game.

Smart had four assists in the third quarter alone. His 10th assist went to Theis on an alley-oop after finding Tatum on an impressive dime.

Chicago made it interesting early in the quarter, cutting the Celtics lead to just nine points, but Boston answered with a 14-2 which featured a nice drive to the lane by Tatum and a four-point play by Carsen Edwards. It gave Boston a 21-point lead midway through the quarter.

Chicago did put together a second-chance effort down the stretch, cutting the Boston lead to just 10 points with four minutes left. The Celtics, however, did enough down the stretch to pull out the win.

Sometimes defense is the best offense.

The Celtics continue a two-game road trip with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday (assuming it isn’t postponed, of course).

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