Ned Dishman / Getty Images
Jayson Tatum lost 39 points in 14 shots on 23 as the Boston Celtics won their 11th game in 13 tries after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 141-133 in a double overtime visit to TD Garden on Thursday.
Marcus Smart added 31 points for the 38-16 C, who hold third place in the east and sit just 1.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors, second. Gordon Hayward added a double double of 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Lou Williams punctuated the Clips with 35 points from the bench, and fellow countryman Montrezl Harrell added 24. Kawhi Leonard had 28 points and 11 boards.
Boston led for most of the second half before a late return of the Clips forced into overtime.
The Celtics had a chance of winning at the end of the settlement and the OT, but shots from Kemba Walker and Tatum, respectively, did not fall. Boston, however, controlled the second overtime, behind an 11-2 streak.
The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown, who was seated with a left calf injury.
The Clippers were shorthanded to start game with point guard Patrick Beverly (groin injury), but they played in the second half and extra time without Paul George, who suffered a left hamstring strain and didn't come back.
Clips 37-18 will head into the All Conference's third break for the Western Conference, five games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, first at 41-12.
Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 28 PTS, 11 REB, 4 AST
Clippers F / C Montrezl Harrell: 24 PTS, 13 REB, 3 BLK
Clippers G Lou Williams: 35 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB
Celtics F Jayson Tatum: 39 PTS, 9 REB, 1 STL
Celtics F Gordon Hayward: 21 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST
Celtics G Marcus Smart: 31 PTS, 4 REB, 4 STL
Tatum continues the rise of the superstar
ESPN's Zach Lowe and Yahoo Sports' Keith Smith and the Celtics blog did it better towards the end of Tatum's fantastic night:
The Celtics striker has been largely phenomenal in recent times. If you start a 5v15 game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Tatum has averaged 31.6 points on 52.4% of shots and 7.8 rebounds per game since February 3.
All of these games have resulted in Celtic victories, crucial results as the team fights for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Tatum is one of the most fluid players in the game, easily able to quickly cut into the lane for two as he kills a three-point clutch.
He makes the game effortless, an incredible feat given that he was not even 22 years old before March.
He also gets into the habit of getting through the clutch.
The Clips led 122-118 towards the end of the first overtime, but Boston had a 9-2 streak with six points from Tatum.
Landry Shamet eventually tied the game at three points, but the C took over in the second overtime as they tried to win.
But the biggest draw of the game was Tatum, who is quickly campaigning for membership on an All-NBA team.
Rob Perez of Action Network noted the exorbitant confidence of Tatum:
And Jay King of The Athletic put it simply:
The Celtics have a tough battle to win in the East given the strength of the 46-8 Bucks and a tough summit from the Eastern Conference which includes six good to excellent teams, but Tatum gives Boston hope of power return to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years.
Clippers fight to the end without George
The Clippers are used to playing without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or both this year, with both players missing 36 games combined.
But the prospects still looked bleak after George did not return to court after half-time.
Already without Patrick Beverley, the Clips faced a tough road battle against arguably one of the top five teams in the NBA. Of course there were only two of them, but it would be difficult to come back.
Boston kept L.A at bay for most of the second half and led 105-99 with 5:56 left after a Tatum dunk. However, the Clippers tied the game at 107 after an 8-2 streak crowned by a three-point pointer from Lou Williams.
Neither team recovered more than one possession for the remainder of the settlement, but the Cs had the ball 114-111 late.
It was at this point that the Clippers' resolution was revealed, first via blocks from Montrezl Harrell and Kawhi Leonard, then via a three from Marcus Morris to equalize the match:
L.A had to return to overtime once more.
The Clips took a 122-118 overtime lead after three more Morris games, but the C responded with a 9-2 streak.
However, another hero emerged at Landry Shamet, who sent the game in a second overtime with a deep three to tie.
The C finally took over in the second overtime, but the fact that the Clips went that far was quite impressive given that they were missing two starters on the road.
L.A. can advocate for the deepest composition in the league and perhaps its best. The regular season was sometimes a rough road, with blowouts and defeats against inferior opponents occurring a little too often for a team aspiring to the championship.
But Thursday's game showed that this team can take a serious punch and get up. Of course, that did not lead to a win, but the tenacity of the Clips shone brilliantly to close the first half of the NBA regular season.
Both teams will be represented at this year's All-Star Game, which will take place in Chicago on Sunday.
Walker will start out as a guard for Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Leonard will move to the first zone for guard / Los Angeles Lakers forward / LeBron James.
Tatum will step out of the LeBron team bench.