Torrid Tatum nets 41, Celtics snap skid with authority vs. Pelicans

BOSTON -- During the Celtics' three-game losing streak, Jayson Tatum -- like the team overall -- was in a funk. He shot terribly from the floor and wasn't putting up the totals people have grown accustomed to.

That changed in a big way on Saturday night as the 21-year-old posted a career-high 41 points in Boston's 140-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

And he didn't even need a full game to get it done. Tatum checked out at the end of the third quarter as the Celtics carried a 32-point lead into the fourth.

"Shots were going in," Tatum said. "Felt good. Felt like we played with a purpose today from the beginning of the game. I felt we did our job."

Tatum, whose previous career high was 39 points, shot 16-of-22 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3 and hit all three of his free throws. He also chipped in with six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"Obviously, it feels good for sure, but, you know, I never get high or too low if I play well or I don't," Tatum said. "I feel like I have a long way to go. The guys I look up to, they have nights like this more often than not. Obviously, it feels good, but I just want to try and do it more often and be consistent. Just continue to get better.

"Tonight, I have to forget about it and move on to the next one."

Boston forward Gordon Hayward was impressed. He said Tatum's "super-efficient" night was something that came in the flow of the game, and that Tatum wasn't pressing or forcing shots up at all.

"I'm happy for him," Hayward said. "Anytime you can get to 40 in this league, that's a big number."

With the performance, Tatum joined some pretty elite company. According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Tatum is the first Celtic to score 40 through three quarters in the past 20 seasons, and is the second Celtic to score 40 in a game while 21 or younger. Antoine Walker did it twice for Boston.

There's more. According to the Celtics, Tatum became the first player in franchise history to have 41 points and six or more 3-pointers while shooting at least 72% from the field and also registering a career-high six triples.

His big night came as Boston tied a season high with 140 points, and the 35-point margin of victory was the largest of the season. The Celtics had 114 points through three quarters, the most since scoring 118 in three quarters against the Charlotte Hornets in February 1990. And Tatum scored on all eight defenders New Orleans threw at him in the half court.

"Today was really two things on the board: pressure the ball the way we want to pressure the ball on defense, and get the ball to the second side," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "So, we tried to run a little bit more of our movement, a little bit more of our stuff that generates that. Few more touches across the floor. And guys did a really good job kind of sticking with it."

Along the way, Boston perhaps built some momentum for a week that includes winnable home games against Chicago (Monday) and Detroit (Wednesday).