The Jayson Tatum scoring tour continued in Utah as he led the Boston Celtics to a 114-103 win over the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Tatum poured in a team-high 33 points, going toe-to-toe with Donovan Mitchell, who had 37 points of his own as the Jazz slumped to their fourth-straight loss.
Boston finishes its four-game road trip 3-1, despite missing the injured Kemba Walker and has now won 14 of their past 17 games.
Here are the key takeaways from tonight's game:
Tatum vs. Mitchell is must-see TV
Tatum continued his red-hot month of scoring, pouring in 33 points on 13-of-20 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, adding 11 rebounds, and three assists.
He's now scored 30 points for the third-straight game, making it six 30-point games in his past nine outings.
Jayson Tatum in February:- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 27, 2020
Only one other Celtic has averaged 30 PPG on 50% shooting in a month in the NBA three-point era; Larry Bird. pic.twitter.com/vCpeZI7Lje
He finished with 25 points in the first half, cooling off as the game progressed, with the Jazz sending traps and double teams in his direction, which opened up looks for his teammates. His gravity scoring the ball is not only helping the Celtics win, but making life easier for his teammates.
Jayson Tatum has recorded 3 straight 30+ point games and shot 60% from the field or better in all three. The last @celtics player to do this was Kevin McHale (3 straight) in March 1987. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/IjjKMo2SnJ- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) February 27, 2020
Mitchell got off to a slow start after picking up his second foul less than three minutes into the game as the Jazz quickly fell into a 19-8 hole, eventually trailing 23-15 at the end of thr first quarter. Their 15 points is the lowest score in a quarter all season.
The Jazz missed 14 of their first 17 shots and managed just eight points in the game's first 10 minutes.
Mitchell came out in the second quarter with a renewed purpose and single-handedly dragged the Jazz back into the contest, reeling off 11-straight points, powering a 17-3 run to cut the deficit to 53-51 at the half.
He finished the first half with 22 points, 20 coming in the second quarter alone.
ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ ᴍᴏᴅᴇ 🔛#TakeNote pic.twitter.com/5vctfDTAn5- Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 27, 2020
Mitchell kept his foot on the gas in the second half, finishing with 37 points on 15-of-32 from the field, and 2-of-10 from three, adding five rebounds and five asssists on the night.
While he was an offensive force all night, he didn't have enough help with only two other teammates scoring in double figures.
Mike Conley Jr recorded 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Royce O'Neale scored 14 points on 4-of-7 from the field.
Celtics supporting cast stands tall
While Tatum led the line, he had plenty of help from his teammates, with all five starters scoring in double figures.
Jaylen Brown recorded 20 points and six rebounds, including a run of 10 points in less than three minutes during the third quarter. The Celtics are now 23-5 this season when Brown scores 20+ points.
Amidst a chorus of boos from the Utah crowd, former Jazzman Gordon Hayward added 12 points, Daniel Theis 16 and Marcus Smart recorded 17 points and nine assists, including some clutch buckets down the stretch.
With Boston leading 89-83 early in the fourth, Smart blew the game open, knocking down three 3-pointers in the space of two minutes to give them a 98-87 lead, before finding Enes Kanter for a layup to extend the lead to 13 points with 7:22 to go.
3️⃣6️⃣ from 👌 pic.twitter.com/D8I2qJ2Usn- Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 27, 2020
The 15-5 run to open the quarter was the catalyst for the win as the Celtics pulled away from there.
Jazz defence continues to falter
Ahead of tonight's game, the Jazz re-shuffled their starting lineup, bringing Royce O'Neale in for Joe Ingles in the hopes of bolstering their defence, which has struggled of late.
In the month of February, the Jazz's defensive rating is ranked 25th in the NBA, but the lineup switch failed to pay immediate dividends as the Celtics shot 53.6 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from three-point range with just eight turnovers.
Despite the loss, Jazz coach Quin Snyder remains optimistic they can turn things around ahead of a stretch of winnable games against sub .500 teams (Wizards, Cavaliers, Knicks), before facing the Celtics again, this time in Boston.
"I thought we gave a really really good, pure effort," Snyder said post-game. "We gotta make a few more shots… but I saw a team that was committed to defending and playing together."
Donovan Mitchell: "We competed defensively. ... Now it's about sustaining it for 48 minutes. I don't think that we should be upset about our effort - just little mistakes that we can fix. ... They are going to capitalize if you make mistakes." pic.twitter.com/1Kukqvoslp- Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 27, 2020
The Celtics (41-17) return home for a blockbuster game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, while the Jazz (36-22), who have dropped to sixth in the Western Conference will look to put an end to their four-game skid when they round out their five-game homestand against the Washington Wizards.
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