Written By Gilbert McGregor
On Sunday, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum emerged from an abysmal slump in legendary fashion.
In an afternoon win over the Wizards, Tatum erupted for 51 points, shooting 18-for-28 from the field, 9-for-14 from 3-point range and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Tatum's nine 3s are a new career-best, surpassing the mark of seven he set earlier in the season.
Making this performance so impressive is just how poorly Tatum had been shooting this season but, more specifically, in the past week. Prior to Sunday, Tatum had missed 21 of his last 22 3-point attempts, dropping his percentage for the season to a career-worst 31.1 percent.
Sunday's performance won't bring his percentage all the way back to his career mark of 38.0 percent, but it's a step in the right direction.
It wasn't just shooting, either, as Tatum also pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists to make it a complete game for the Celtics, who moved back to .500 – and past the Wizards in the standings – with the win.
Now, back to the scoring.
Tatum was focused from the get-go, scoring 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the first half alone. He didn't slow down, either, adding another 17 points in the third quarter to enter the final frame with 48 points. In the fourth, Boston pressed to get its superstar to the 50-point mark, but it didn't take too long, as he got to 50 with a layup and added a technical free throw to bring his total to 51 before calling it a night.
I mean, it was pretty efficient.
Sunday marks the third time in which Tatum has scored 50 or more points in the regular season and he's also added one 50-point performance in the playoffs and one in the NBA's Play-In Tournament. He's the second Celtic this season to score 50 in a game, with Jaylen Brown scoring 50 just three weeks earlier on Sunday, Jan. 2.
The only other Celtics duo to score 50 points in the same season? Larry Bird and Kevin McHale during the 1984-85 campaign.
Tatum and Brown did it in the same month.
With the performance, Tatum all but solidifies his case for what should be a third consecutive selection to the NBA All-Star Game. With uncertainty surrounding Nets forward Kevin Durant for this year's game, Tatum could be in the running as an injury replacement starter in this year's game, which falls on Feb. 20, 2022.
We'll see if Sunday's performance propels Tatum and the Celtics for the final 30-plus games of the season.