NBA

'You dream about moments like this' – Tatum rejoices after 54-point haul

By Sports Desk March 07, 2022

Jayson Tatum was living in dreamland after his 54-point haul in the Boston Celtics' 126-120 victory over a Brooklyn Nets team boasting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday.

Durant and Irving teamed up for only the fourth time this season, but it was Tatum who took centre stage, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and eight-of-15 from beyond the arc.

His incredible display included 34 second-half points, with 18 coming during the final quarter as the Celtics overturned a one-point deficit.

While Durant put up 37 points in only his second game back from an MCL sprain, becoming the 23rd player to reach 25,000 career NBA points, Irving managed just 19 points with four rebounds and six rebounds.

And Tatum was thrilled to get the better of two stars of the game as the Celtics, for whom Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, improved to 39-27.

"As a competitor, night in, night out, but especially games like this, those matchups when you're [against] one of the better teams in the league with two of the best guys, just as a competitor, these are the kinds of moments that as a kid you dreamed about and looked forward to," he said.

"When those opportunities come, you try to make the most of it.

"Obviously, somebody like myself or [Brown] can have nights like this. And it's contagious when guys are hitting shots, spreading the wealth and making the extra pass, driving and kicking.

"Just getting those open looks and seeing them go in, it just opens everything up for us. We know how tough we can be on defense. When we kind of match that energy on offense, we'll really be special."

Team-mate Marcus Smart cited slight tweaks in Tatum's approach that had led to an upturn in his performances.

He said: "He stopped trying to force it, and making the right read, making the game easy for himself.

"Saving that energy and not trying to beat every double-team that comes his way and that's allowing him to do what he does at the end of games. He has the legs late in those fourth quarters to take over the games and that's what it's all about.

"When you are a great player, that's what it's about, having those legs in crunch time to be able to do that. The way you do that is getting everyone else involved, picking your spots wisely.

"He's doing a great job of that, him and Jaylen. They both are and that's the reason why we are doing what we are doing. That's good players that get us going on the offensive end, making sure we get great shots either for themselves or for their team-mates."

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