Celtics

Celtics-Jazz Takeaways: Jayson Tatum gets his again, but C's spread it around

Celtics-Jazz Takeaways: Jayson Tatum gets his again, but C's spread it around

Kemba Walker missing games this season has drawn more attention to his Boston Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum. 

When that happens, it puts a greater premium on those around Tatum to elevate their play and make teams pay for focusing on the All-Star. 

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Tatum, who had 33 points in the C's 114-103 win over Utah, is on the kind of scoring binge that has set him apart not just from his teammates, but from most of the top players in the NBA. 

His play set the tone for Boston’s strong start against Utah, but the Jazz got back into the game and made it a back-and-forth tussle for most the final three quarters. 

The Celtics began to separate themselves in the fourth, getting solid contributions from bench players at both ends of the floor to pull away for another win - their 11th in their past 13. 

Here are a few takeaways from a solid win that closes a strong 3-1 trip west:

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR C'S? A LOT

Jaylen Brown was one of the most outspoken Celtics when it came to talking about the need for players to do a better job of supporting Tatum when he has it going offensively. 

Brown was more than up to the challenge, finishing with 20 points, including 10 points in a third quarter that ended with the Celtics clinging to a three-point lead. 

The Celtics have the kind of roster where the offensive pecking order will fluctuate from game-to-game. Still, Brown has consistently shown he's the kind of player who makes the most of an increased opportunity and Wednesday was no exception. 

Indeed, it has worked out well for Boston this season and will need to continue to be part of who they are going forward. 

PLAYING (MARCUS) SMART DOWN THE STRETCH

Marcus Smart makes shots in the fourth quarter. Marcus Smart makes shots in the fourth quarter. It’s worth repeating because, for some reason, Celtics opponents consistently leave him wide open. 

And to Smart’s credit, he continues to make the opposition pay when it matters most. 

Smart had 17 points, nine in the fourth quarter. He also led the Celtics with nine assists.

Knocking down shots in the fourth is something that Smart does consistently. Now, those shots are coming with even less resistance because of the added attention being paid to Tatum. 

INSIDE JOB BY BOSTON

Much is made of Boston’s lack of bigs, and yet they continue to do what teams with size do: generate points in the paint. 

Boston won the paint battle against Utah, outscoring the Jazz 56-46 in the paint in addition to out-rebounding them, 44-41. 

The Celtics have consistently mixed up their inside scoring coming from drives and post-ups, a good mix that has kept defenses off balance and in many instances, incapable of slowing them down. 

Having multiple guys who can finish at the rim while creating their own shot, poses a great challenge to most defenses. 

And maybe most important, it has given the Celtics exactly what they are seeking every night: a win. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

Kobe Bryant will forever be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. That unmatched competitiveness was amplified whenever his Los Angeles Lakers faced off against their archrival, the Boston Celtics.

Two months after the Lakers fell to the C's in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant headed to China to take part in the Summer Olympics. There, he helped the United States earn its first gold medal since 2000.

But the sting from his loss to the Celtics overshadowed the euphoria of his Olympics victory.

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WNBA star Sue Bird, who also was in China for the '08 Games, told a great story about witnessing Bryant's competitive attitude while drinking wine and playing card games with him that summer.

“He was fresh off [the Finals loss] and you could tell [he was still thinking it]” Bird told Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwuimike.“… [We were] just kicking it and he saw this newspaper — it was something about the Lakers series and blah blah blah — and there was a picture of Paul Pierce celebrating.

“And he didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything. But we saw him take the paper. He started cutting out the Paul Pierce picture. He folded it up and put it in his pocket and was like, ‘Motivation.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, it never stops with him.’ And you can tell.”

Watch below:

There never will be another player like the "Black Mamba."

Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. He was 41 years old.

You can listen to Pierce reminisce about the C's Finals win over the Lakers in the Celtics Talk Podcast below:

Here's how Celtics' Gordon Hayward is staying busy amid coronavirus outbreak

Here's how Celtics' Gordon Hayward is staying busy amid coronavirus outbreak

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is spending some much needed time with his family, but he's probably seen Disney's "Frozen" more times than he's wanted to. 

"I think I've watched 'Frozen' 35 times already," Hayward said, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe. 

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Watching Disney films isn't the only thing the 30-year-old gamer is doing -- Hayward told Lowe he's been teaching his daughters how to play Mario Kart and Pokemon. While Hayward is one of the NBA's biggest video game nerds, he, unfortunately, isn't participating in the NBA 2K Tournament that begins on Saturday.

While his daughters are enjoying watching movies and playing video games, Hayward says they're missing the TD Garden court. 

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"This was the first season they actually liked to go," Hayward said. "And not to watch me play. Just to hang out. They miss that."

Hayward probably misses it even more. He's averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. In the C's final game before the NBA hit pause on the 2019-20 campaign, Hayward tallied 27 points against the Indiana Pacers with 10 rebounds. 

If the NBA season does resume at any point in the future, Hayward should be well-rested and ready to go.