The Indiana Pacers couldn't stop Jayson Tatum on Saturday. The Boston Celtics star scored 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting, including eight 3-pointers, in a 118-101 triumph at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Tatum guided the Celtics to a fourth-quarter win after they led 84-81. He helped the C's beat the Pacers 34-20 in the fourth with 15 points in the final 12 minutes.
Tatum's effect went beyond scoring. He had 14 rebounds and 6 assists in 38 minutes. The 25-year-old forward consistently delivers top two-way play.
Tatum has averaged 27.7 points this season. He has scored 30+ in three straight and five of the previous seven. It's easy to overlook his consistently high score after three years at this level.
In his postgame news conference, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla remarked, "It's the greatest compliment, I was telling him, when you get to the point where you're so talented from a basketball aspect and you desire to get better and have such high character that people can take you for I believe that's the greatest compliment because they think you should.
"I think his player improvement has exploded in the previous month. He plays with patience on drives. Potential assist average, screening, and knowing he needs to improve his teammates. I didn't believe he forced much with 38 points on 23 shots.
He had 38-14-6. If another league player does it, everyone talks. He does that and says, 'Oh, KP was wounded in the first half' and so on. When you're as good as him, people take you for granted. Probably the greatest praise."
When questioned about being taken for granted after the game, Tatum said he's focused on helping the Celtics to Banner 18. "I don't look for that praise anymore," Tatum told reporters. "I've done a lot in this league, and I want to go over that hump, get back to the Finals, and help us win a championship.
I may not win MVP, but I'm trying to help us stay the greatest team in the league. If people see it, I appreciate that, but if not, that's OK." Tatum and the Celtics meet the Pacers in Indiana again on Monday.