Jayson Tatum And The Celtics Edged Out The Clippers In Double Overtime

The NBA had two quick orders of business to get settled on Thursday night before the All-Star break began. The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 123-118, to get half of that equation all sorted out. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers needed a little more time to wrap their game up, but it ended up being very much worth pushing back the start of the break.

Boston, sans Jaylen Brown, ended up defending its home court in double overtime, knocking off a shorthanded Los Angeles squad, 141-133. The hero on the evening was Jayson Tatum, who had perhaps his best all-around game as a professional. The former No. 3 overall pick scored 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting and connected on five of his ten attempts from three. He also pulled down nine boards and competed defensively, doing everything the Celtics needed him to do en route to a win.

The rest of Boston’s starting five came up huge alongside Tatum — the team’s bench scored 19 points on the evening — with Marcus Smart providing a major scoring punch (31 points on 10-for-20 shooting) and Gordon Hayward recording a double-double (21 points, 13 rebounds). Also, Kemba Walker — towards the end of a 19-point, 9-rebound, 7-assist evening — did this to Landry Shamet.

The Clippers, meanwhile, had to play this game without Patrick Beverley and only got 15 minutes of action out of Paul George, who hurt his hamstring in the first half and missed the remainder of the game. Fortunately for them, the two stars of their bench mob came up gigantic. Lou Williams stuffed the stat sheet in 44 minutes, recording 35 points, eight rebounds, and six boards, while Montrezl Harrell was a menace, going for 24 points and 13 rebounds. There were also some heroics from Shamet, who canned a triple to force double overtime.

Still, the story of this game was Tatum’s otherworldly performance, especially when the other team came into this game with one of the best players in the world. That player, Kawhi Leonard, didn’t have his best night, which says more about the standard to which he’s judged than anything, because he scored 28 points on 10-for-27 shooting with 11 rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block. Plus compared to the monster night we saw out of Tatum, who appeared to be in total control and fed of a raucous crowd in Beantown, it was nowhere near enough.

While winning the one seed seems like a bit of a stretch with how good the Milwaukee Bucks have been, the Celtics have a legitimate shot at the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference — they’re 2.5 games back of the Toronto Raptors following the win. Getting performances like this from Tatum on a nightly basis probably isn’t tenable, but as long as he consistently plays like an All-Star, Boston’s going to have a shot at making some serious noise for the rest of the regular season and during the playoffs.