Tatum notches 40th 30-point game, Celtics beat Pacers 120-95
NEW YORK (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 34 points, setting a new franchise record with his 40th 30-point game this season, and the Boston Celtics rolled to a 120-95 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Tatum passed Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who had 39 30-point games during the 1987-88 season.
Jaylen Brown added 27 points and seven rebounds, and Derrick White finished with 22 points and nine assists.
The Celtics have won four out of five and improved to 27-9 at home this season.
Brown acknowledged he’s taken a more marked approach to how he’s trying to attack teams.
“Just playing with more of a sense of urgency and two, just being more communicative and just trying to get guys going and get guys to be aggressive and just being a leader out there,” Brown said. “I think that’s key. And playing the game the right way. Encouraging out guys to be aggressive and coming doing what they do best.”
Five of Boston’s remaining eight games will be at TD Garden as they try to catch Milwaukee in the race for the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed. The Bucks entered the day with a 2 1/2-game edge in the standings. The Celtics had a half-game lead over third-place Philadelphia.
Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla likes how the team has responded recently, going 4-2 on their recent road trip and notching back-to=back wins in which the detail and execution of their game plan was evident.
“Our guys have great poise about how this season goes and I think they’re in a good place right now,” Mazzulla said.
Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton had 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his first game back from a six-game absence with a combination of a bruised left knee and sprained right ankle. Myles Turner added 20 points and six rebounds.
Indiana entered the game 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago Bulls for 10th place in the East and the final spot in the play-in tournament.
The Pacers had 17 turnovers leading to 21 Celtics’ points.
“We were struggling to get good shots and we were struggling and it snowballed in a four to five-minute period of time,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “The third we just played poorly.”
Brown and Tatum combined for 12 straight points during a 17-5 run in the third quarter to help the Celtics take a 77-62 lead.
It included them working together to score five straight points during an 8-second sequence. First, Tatum dropped in a layup off a Marcus Smart steal. Then, Tatum came up with a loose ball and fed Brown for a 26-footer.
The Celtics outscored the Pacers 32-21 in the period and started the fourth on a 14-2 run, taking as much as a 29-point advantage.
“I think they’re both finding a great balance of being dominant players and being team players. I just think when they do that, our team’s different,” Mazzulla said. “Right now they’re very committed to being both.”
Pacers: Shot 60% (15 of 25) in the first quarter. … Haliburton received a technical foul at the 2:55 mark of the first quarter when he jumped up and down in protest after appearing to be hit in the face by Derrick White while making a layup. … Chris Duarte missed his fifth straight game with a sore left ankle.
Celtics: Robert Williams III came off the bench in his second game back from a hamstring injury, finishing with four points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. … Malcolm Brogdon was a late scratch with lower back pain. Payton Pritchard sat for the eight straight game with a left heel injury. … Smart remained on the court for several seconds in the second quarter after appearing to take a shot to the groin from Bennedict Mathurin. Smart got up, then was briefly restrained by teammates as the pair exchanged words. … Boston shot 61% in the first quarter (14 of 23), including 5 of 9 from the 3-point line.
Pacers: At Hawks on Saturday.
Celtics: Host Spurs on Sunday.