Jayson Tatum certainly was happy when he scored 53 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a nine-point win earlier this month, but he was quick to express how it wasn’t the same seeing how his son, Deuce, wasn’t in the stands.
Well, Tatum made up for that Friday against the San Antonio Spurs, and with Deuce in the front row, scored a career-high 60 points to help the Celtics mount a 143-140 comeback win at TD Garden.
Tatum’s 60 points weren’t just a career-high, though. It also tied him for the most points in franchise history with Celtics legend Larry Bird.
“When I’m playing, I don’t think about it,” Tatum said on the NBC Sports Boston broadcast immediately after the game. “Maybe later tonight or tomorrow I’ll realize how special it is. I’m just glad. I said I was going to do it again when Deuce was here, I think that was the most special part.”
Tatum said he knew he had 50 points going into the overtime, but was concentrated on helping the Boston get the win.
“Tatum was amazing, as you know, and we needed every one of those 60 points,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said.
Jaylen Brown added: “… JT really was outstanding tonight. You really got to tip your cap. That boy is destined for greatness. I couldn’t throw the rock into the ocean tonight and JT carried us to a win. He played hard and he led us tonight. There’s going to be nights where it’s going to be other ways, but tonight, JT was outstanding.”
Tatum scored 14 of Boston’s 16 in the first quarter. He scored 21 in the fourth to help force overtime after the C’s went into the final 12 minutes trialing by 13.
And that 13-point deficit was not even a blip on the radar for the Celtics on Friday. Boston, who was booed off the floor at halftime, trailed by as many as 32 points in the first half and faced a 29-point halftime deficit. It was not good.
But that was before Tatum erased it all.
“To be down 30, down some guys, and come back in overtime and win, and have everybody contribute, there’s nothing like it,” Tatum said on NBC Sports Boston. “We really just asked ourselves, ‘Who do we want to be?’ Obviously, we know that was embarrassing the way we played in the first half, and regardless if we won or not, just how we were going to come out in the second half and compete. We did it.”
And they did it because of Tatum.
“He did exactly what a great player is supposed to do. He was efficient, led us, hit timely shots. Big baskets. Real big-boy basketball. That’s what we need. We’re going to need that going forward from myself, from others. And it was a hell of a win tonight.”
Perhaps it even showed the Celtics something that can help long term?
“I got all the faith in myself and my teammates when we’re at full health,” Tatum said. “We know what we’re playing for. We’re trying to hang another banner.”
The Celtics will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.