Tatum Continues March Tear With 44-Point Stinger vs. Hornets
Jayson Tatum is taking March literally. Because he’s marching all over the competition this month.
After scoring a season-high 54 points at home against Brooklyn Sunday afternoon, Tatum took his show on the road to Charlotte where he dropped 44 more into the scoring column in a 115-101 win Wednesday night.
With 98 points combined, Tatum tied Kevin McHale’s franchise scoring record over a two-game span.
But that’s not all.
On March 3 – his 24th birthday – Tatum tallied 37 in the scoring column against Memphis. That means he's scored 135 points over the past three games, which is seven more than the franchise record he set last spring when he logged 128 points over a three-game span.
Let’s not forget, he also opened the month with a 33-point effort against Atlanta. That’s 168 points in four games and a scoring average of 42 PPG, which is nearly eight points higher than anyone else in the NBA this month.
Oh, and the Celtics are 4-0 during that span.
“Obviously he’s on quite a tear right now,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said of Tatum after Wednesday night’s win. “He’s getting the matchups he wants and getting to the spots he wants and getting the shots he wants. That’s a huge luxury to have when you have a guy who can do that.”
It’s a luxury for Tatum’s teammates as well, because the more he scores, the more opposing defense load up on him. And the more double- and triple-teams he faces, the more wide-open opportunities his teammates have.
Such was the case Wednesday night when Charlotte threw everything but the kitchen sink at Tatum despite him shooting 16-of-24 shooting from the field.
"They're doubling so everybody's in rotation kind of chasing,” said Derrick White, who was one of six Celtics players to reach double-figures in the scoring column, finishing with 11 points and eight assists off the bench. “So it's an opportunity for me and everybody else just to take advantage of what the defense gives us and be aggressive."
For Tatum, this stretch has been extra satisfying after going through a bumpy beginning to the season. Through the end of November, he was shooting just 39.5 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from 3-point range. But he kept his head up and never lost faith in his work.
Over the last 20 games, Tatum has shot nearly 10 percentage points higher in both categories, with a 49.8 percent clip from the field and a 39.2 percent mark from long range. And so far this month, he has shot 55.8 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from deep.
“I’m in a lot better zone than I was to start the season,” Tatum said with a smile. “But it was just part of it. I believe in the work I put in and I never doubted myself. I’m just thankful my teammates didn’t doubt me either.”
At the moment, those teammates are just like the rest of us: sitting back and enjoying the show.
"It's been fun to watch,” said White, who has seen nothing but greatness out of Tatum since joining the Celtics at the trade deadline. “On this side, I've enjoyed it. He's super talented. He's doing it within the offense and he's doing a good job of finding guys when they come in and double-team and stuff like that. It's been fun to play with and fun to see."
That is unless you’re on the other side of the court. Because that means that Tatum is likely marching all over you.