LOS ANGELES – As Jayson Tatum and I walked through the concourse area of the Staples Center following his four-point, 1-for-6 shooting night against the Los Angeles Lakers, the stoic 19-year-old’s demeanor was steady as always.
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He was minutes removed from arguably the worst game of his still-young NBA career. And yet he didn’t seem the least bit fazed about it, even joking about how the missed layup he had in the fourth quarter was one of the many plays that cemented the fact that this was not going to be his night.
“I was trying to fight through it,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “But ultimately that’s what it was.”
Handling setbacks have been among the strengths of this Celtics team all season.
It began on opening night when Gordon Hayward went down with a dislocated left ankle injury and it has continued in some form or another since then.
But the Celtics are now on a four-game losing skid, something that’s totally foreign to this team.
The reasons for how they got here vary.
But they all know the formula for how to get back on track comes down to one thing – playing better, longer.
“We have to come out and earn one,” Jaylen Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “We need that; because nobody is going to give it to us.”
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that extended the losing streak to four.
MORE BALANCED SCORING
Even with Kyrie Irving going off offensively, it’s hard to win games when a pair of starters tally less than five points combined. Aron Baynes was scoreless while missing all three of his shot attempts, and Jayson Tatum wasn’t much better with four points on 1-for-6 shooting.
It’s unclear if he’ll play tonight in what will be the second leg of a back-to-back for the first time this season. But man, the Celtics could definitely use him. He continues to be the Celtics’ most consistent scoring threat off the bench, filling a huge void in the lineup. Against the Lakers, he had 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with seven rebounds and a team-best plus/minus among reserves, of +4.
It’s one thing to have nights when you don’t get to the free throw line. But what’s happening with the Celtics is much bigger than that. Against the Lakers, Boston only took 10 free throws compared to Los Angeles’ 36. It has been 30 straight games, a franchise record, that Boston has failed to make 20 or more free throws - a major deciding factor in the outcome of the Lakers game.
THE 3-POINT SHOT
Boston loves to take 3-pointers, but they can sometimes get carried away with it which was the case on Tuesday night. For the game, Boston wound up taking 44 three-pointers (with 15 makes) while taking a total of 90 shots for the game. The Celtics are now 8-7 when they take 40 percent or more of their shots from 3-point range, compared to an impressive 26-7 mark when less than 40 percent of their shots are 3-point attempts.
Aside from missing what would have been the game-winner, there was a lot to like about Marcus Smart’s play. He drew charges, contested shots, made hustle plays … did a lot of Marcus Smart-like things most of the game. For the game, he had 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting with four made 3’s. He also did a nice job of getting his teammates involved without forcing the action too much, evident by him tallying eight assists with just one turnover.