The Clippers were without their two best players Wednesday night, but Jayson Tatum wasn’t surprised Los Angeles gave Boston a tough challenge at Staples Center.
Kawhi Leonard has yet to suit up for the Clippers this season as he recovers from a torn ACL injury. Running mate Paul George also missed the matchup against the Celtics due to shoulder pain. Nonetheless, the shorthanded Clippers notched their second consecutive victory with a 114-111 win over the C’s.
After the game, Tatum explained why no one should have ruled out a big night for LA, even with Leonard and George both sidelined.
“I think sometimes, people that don’t necessarily play basketball, they think that when the best player is out, it should be an easy win,” Tatum told reporters, per Celtics.com. “But I think, a lot of times, that’s when you really gotta focus and lock in. If Paul George is playing, (Brandon Boston) probably would not have played that many minutes or gotten that opportunity. On any given night, you know when certain guys are out and other guys get their number called, it can be nights like this where they get that chance. You gotta play to what guys are capable of, not necessarily what they average or what their career-high is … We gotta be more mindful of games and situations like that.”
It was the coming-out party for Boston, a 2021 second-round pick who was playing in his 12th NBA game. The Kentucky product dropped a team-high 27 points, more than doubling his previous single-game high. Tatum (29) was the only player to score more points than the 20-year-old Wednesday night.
Boston will wrap up its five-game West Coast road trip Friday against the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns, who had their lengthy win streak halted at 18 last Friday.