NBA Basketball

Jayson Tatum heating up as Celtics host Nets

Jayson Tatum broke out of a shooting slump Wednesday, and that could be bad news for the Brooklyn Nets when they visit the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

After two lackluster efforts since the All-Star break, Tatum tossed in 41 points in a 117-113 victory over Cleveland. He also had 11 rebounds and eight assists in the win, which came two days after Boston's 109-94 loss to New York.

Tatum shot 36.6 percent from the field (24 percent from behind the 3-point arc) in Boston's three games since the All-Star break leading up to Wednesday's matchup with the Cavaliers. He was 13 of 21 from the field against Cleveland and made 4 of 6 shots from behind the 3-point arc.

Tatum enters Friday's game averaging 30.3 points per game.

"It's a long season," Tatum said. "It's 82 games. Nobody has a great day of work every day of the year. Everybody has bad days, I guess. But you have to take the good days with the bad days. I say it all the time, I never get too high, never get too low. Regardless of what happens, you can't change it. You have to get ready for the next one and move on."

Al Horford matched his career high by making six 3-pointers against the Cavaliers.

"You never want to lose two in a row and then you don't want to lose on your home floor either," Boston's Jaylen Brown said. "We got a pretty good stretch of basketball coming up. It's gonna be some tough games, so we have to find ways to win and guys have to be ready."

The Nets, meanwhile, have been trending in the wrong direction since trading Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn allowed 81 points in the first half of Wednesday's 142-118 loss to New York. That setback extended the team's losing streak to four games.

Brooklyn has lost six of its last seven games and has a 7-18 record in its last 25 outings. The 81 points the Knicks scored in the first two quarters are the most the Nets (Brooklyn or New Jersey) have ever allowed in one half.

"We're sitting on the bench (and) you can feel that it's an unsettled feeling because we want to be better, because we know we can do better," said Brooklyn's Cam Johnson, who scored a season-high 33 points in the loss to the Knicks. "We know we have the talent in our room to be better."

Brooklyn has given up at least 30 points in 12 of the 16 quarters the team has played since the All-Star break.

"Some of these teams are just hitting shots, and sometimes you gotta give credit to them," Johnson said. "But like I said earlier, that's when you got to step in and be like, what kind of shots are they hitting? And how can we make them take different shots? How can we make them do things that are a little more uncomfortable for them? But yeah, it's not something that sits well with our group because we know we should be at the very minimum, a very good, top-half of the NBA defensive team."

Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said knee soreness will prevent Ben Simmons from playing against the Celtics.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 2, 2023

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