JB's Historic Shooting Drives C’s to Most Lopsided Win of Season

BOSTON – While his wingman, Jayson Tatum, was on the sideline Sunday night, Jaylen Brown put the Celtics on his shoulders and delivered in historic fashion en route to the most lopsided win of Boston’s season.

JB came through with 41 points, which included an absurd 16-of-19 clip from inside the 3-point arc, leading the C’s to a 137-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs at TD Garden.

“We were down a guy, but it’s nothing for him to step in and fill that void,” said teammate Rob Williams, referring to Brown stepping up in place of Tatum, who was out with a hip injury. “We trust him, he trusts us, and he led us."

Brown’s prowess from 2-point range was tied for the most efficient mark on at least that many attempts in Celtics history. Two others shot exactly 16-of-19 in a game as well: Larry Bird on Nov. 27, 1984, and Bill Sharman on Jan. 9, 1958 (before the introduction of the 3-point arc).

Most of those makes came on finishes inside the restricted area, where Brown shot a near-perfect 13-of-14.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla says Brown’s ability to score so efficiently is due to his high basketball IQ and ability to anticipate how the opposition is defending him.

“I think he's always had the ability to score, but now he has the ability to break defenses down, to understand how the defense is guarding him, to anticipate where the help is coming from, and then to make the right play,” said Mazzulla, whose Celtics now sit just 1.5 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Bucks. “And so, to me, his scoring is obviously huge for us, but his decision-making and his reads have gotten a lot better. It's a credit to him because he works at it every single day.”

Brown says he’s focusing even more and working even harder with the playoffs around the corner, and he’s shown that with his play. Over his last seven outings, the All-NBA hopeful has averaged 32.1 points per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

That, on top of his full season of work, is what makes Malcolm Brogdon believe that Brown is the best player at his position in the league.

“He’ll be All-NBA, he’ll make one of the teams this year,” insisted Brogdon, who scored 20 points off the bench Sunday night. “His game really speaks for itself. When JT is out, he’s the No. 1 option. He’s showing that he can be that. He’s put in the work, he’s evolved. Since we came in the league together, he’s evolved and taken giant steps forward every year, and he’s playing at an extremely high level.”

It goes without saying that Brown prefers to have Tatum by his side, but he also embraces the task of stepping into that clear-cut, No. 1 role and putting the whole team on his back.

“It's a fun challenge,” said Brown, who moved past Cedric Maxwell into 18th place on the Celtics' all-time scoring list Sunday night with his 8,312th career point. “I get up every day and do my job, whether they ask me to score, defend, rebound. Since I’ve been here in Boston, I’ve always taken pride in doing what I’ve been asked to do. Whatever challenge there’s been, I’ve always met that challenge with excitement and a willingness to be a part of a team. When you get an opportunity to be the guy that everybody is kind of leaning on, it’s a privilege. It’s an honor, so I don’t take those moments for granted. I come out each and every night, strap my shoes up, and get my guys ready to go.”