Following a 19-point loss in Washington Tuesday night, Jayson Tatum affirmed that his Celtics would respond two nights later in Milwaukee.
And boy, did they – with a 41-point drubbing of the first-place Bucks at Fiserv Forum.
Boston did most of its damage before halftime with a 41-21 second-quarter advantage. Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 32 of those points, finishing with 15, nine, and eight in the quarter respectively.
In the first half of the second quarter, the C’s expanded an eight-point lead into a 22-point lead, going on a 16-2 run during a five-minute span, during which Milwaukee failed to make a field goal. Tatum made plenty of field goals during that time, at one point scoring eight consecutive points.
By the end of the second quarter, Boston had turned its eight-point lead into a 28-point lead by a score of 75-47. Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished the half with just five fewer combined points than the entire Bucks team, as the former erupted for 22 while the latter poured in 20, including 17 in the first quarter.
From there, the Celtics went up by as many as 49 points before rolling to a 140-99 win.
Jayson Tatum was flawless Thursday night. Against the best team in the league, he churned out 40 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field, 8-of-10 from 3-point range, and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, all while not committing a single turnover.
It marked the third 40-point, zero-turnover game of Tatum’s career. In the entire history of the Celtics, there have only been three other such performances (two for Larry Bird and one for Antoine Walker).
The 40-point outing was historic for another reason in that it was Tatum's 11th of the season, tying him with Larry Bird for most 40-point games in a single campaign.
It also marked the second straight 40-point game for Tatum in Milwaukee, following his 46-point Game 6 effort from last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. Plus, it was his second 40-point game against the Bucks this season after dropping 41 in his only other game against them on Christmas.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Tatum's 40-point outing is that he completed it all in just three quarters. The Celtics built a large enough lead that allowed him and most of the starters to rest for the entire fourth quarter, so he only had to spend 30 minutes on the court.
Box Score Nuggets
- Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 40 points while making 8-of-10 from 3-point range.
- Jaylen Brown finished right behind Tatum with 30 points.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo was Milwaukee's leading scorer, finishing with 24 points.
- Tatum logged the sixth (and his third) 40-point, zero-turnover game in Celtics history.
- Boston recorded its league-leading third 40-point win of the season.
- Marcus Smart dished out a game-high eight assists.
- No Bucks player handed out more than four assists.
- The Celtics shot 22-of-43 (51.2 percent) from deep.
- Boston handed out 28 assists while committing only eight turnovers.
- The Celtics led by as many as 49 points.
- The Bucks never led by more than three points.
Quote of the Night
"We've got to keep it up. Have fun, keep playing the right way, and we'll see where that takes us."
– Jaylen Brown after leading the Celtics to their fourth win of at least 23 points in the last five games.