Thomas drops career-high 52 points in Celtics 117-114 win over Heat

Thomas drops career-high 52 points in Celtics 117-114 win over Heat

BOSTON – The year 2016 is coming to an end, with at least one Boston Celtics player - Isaiah Thomas - probably not all that thrilled about it.

The 5-foot-9 guard has had an amazing year, one where he has gone from being a nice addition to the Celtics roster to one of the most explosive scorers in the game today.

So it was only fitting that he would save his best offensive games of the year, for the Celtics’ last game in 2016.


​Thomas, playing without his usual backcourt parter Avery Bradley (sick), left the Heat feeling a bit ill after dropping a career-high 52 points on the usually-tough Miami Heat defense in leading the Celtics to a 117-114 win.

He checked out of the game with 6.2 seconds to play to a standing ovation, moments before James Johnson scored at the buzzer to make it a one-possession game.

The last Celtic to score at least 50 points was Paul Pierce against Cleveland in February of 2006.

Thomas had a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter as part of the win for Boston (20-14) which has now won seven of its last nine games.

Miami, playing without Goran Dragic (back spasms), was as feisty as ever in not allowing the Celtics to pull away which is evident by Boston leading by no more than eight points all night.

But on this night, Thomas refused to allow the Celtics to close out 2016 with a loss.

And while he has shown himself to be a more than adequate passer, there wasn’t much of that on this night.

The dude dropped 52 points … can you blame him?

Making it just as impressive – besides the win – was he did it on an efficient 15-for-26 shooting from the field and 9-for-13 from 3-point range.

The Celtics got a nice bounce-back game from Al Horford (21 points, six rebounds, four assists) as well (he had six points in Boston’s loss at Cleveland on Thursday night).

But this game was all about Thomas, delivering one of the best games in franchise history while reinforcing his place among not just the great guards in the Eastern Conference today, but the NBA as a whole.

As impressive as Thomas’ play was, by no means was this an easy win.

Miami began the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run capped off by a steal and subsequent dunk by Josh Richardson that put the Heat up 89-84 with 9:27 to play. But the Celtics rallied to take control as Richardson finished with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

After A 25-all tie at the end of the first quarter, Miami pulled ahead by as many as seven points (42-35) before the Celtics clamped down defensively and did a better job of executing on offense.

It added up to a 17-6 run by Boston to close out the quarter, with Thomas leading the way with 14 points during the spurt.

Miami continued to keep the game within striking distance in the third quarter, benefiting from second-chance opportunities and some timely 3-point shots.

The Heat are no different than most teams that face the Boston Celtics; they want to slow Thomas down.

And in the third quarter, it was clear that they felt the best way to do that was to force the 5-foot-9 guard to defend pick-and-rolls … a lot.

It led to Tyler Johnson getting hot, as he scored eight of Miami’s first 18 points in the third quarter which included a jumper that put the Heat ahead 66-64 with 5:50 to play in the quarter.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out.

But at this point in the game, the Heat were feeling pretty good about their chances at the upset as they kept the Celtics from pulling away.

Boston refused to let them gain too much traction as they took an 82-78 lead into the fourth quarter following a 3-pointer by Jonas Jerebko with 1.7 seconds to play in the quarter.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.