Celtics

Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

BOSTON -- The final numbers for Jayson Tatum in Boston’s 140-133 win over Washington - 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting - are not going to inspire any “M-V-P” chants or anything like that. 

“Better than one-for-eighteen,” said a grinning Tatum, referring to the horrendous shooting performance he had in Boston’s win over Dallas on Monday. 

Tatum has had some off nights shooting this season, but the woeful performance against Dallas was historically bad. It was only the ninth time in NBA history that a player shot that poorly while taking 18 shots from the field. 

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, who knows Tatum better than anyone else in the NBA, said going into the game Wednesday night that the third-year forward was going to have a solid bounce-back performance. 

Beal said he anticipated Tatum would come out, “gunning. I know it.”

He added, “He forgot about that game and is looking forward to this one.”

He was right. 

Tatum didn’t take long to get it going offensively against the Wizards (2-7), scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone on 5-for-9 shooting from the field. 

Hitting up the practice facility within hours of the Mavericks game on Monday was part of Tatum’s put-that-one-behind-me program that as we saw against Washington on Wednesday, worked pretty well. 

When asked why he went to the practice facility right after the Dallas game, Tatum replied, “Just see some shots go in, really. Try to get my mind off the game and get back in a rhythm.”

Kemba Walker said he spoke with Tatum shortly before the game. 

“I told him, ‘You know, every night is not going to be the best night. It’s all about the bounce back,’” Walker recalled. “And he bounced back tonight. It was a huge game; a big game from him.”

It was important not only for the Celtics to continue on their winning ways, but also for Tatum’s growth into someone that many believe will eventually rank among the best in the NBA. 

“He’s a special talent,” Walker said. “I’m excited [about] the way he handled tonight’s game.”

Beal echoed similar sentiments about his fellow St. Louis native who also attended the same high school (Chaminade College Prep) as Beal years later.

“He’s a star, man; a star in the making,” Beal, who dropped 44 points on the Celtics, said of Tatum. “It’s amazing to be a part of his life, to see him grow every year to where he is now.”

The 26-year-old Beal has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons, so he knows all too well how challenging it can be to make that leap from being a good player, which is where Tatum is now, to being an All-Star, which Tatum has not been coy about as being one of his many goals. 

“He’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to hit bumps in the road,” Beal said. “He’s going to go through adversity. That’s just going to make him better and stronger.”

And seeing him up close now, Walker has gained a greater appreciation for not just Tatum’s talent but the amount of time he puts into his game to get better. 

“From his first season, watching from afar, and now being his teammate, I love the way he works on off days to improve his game,” Walker said. “We need that kid; we need him a lot. We need him to score big points for us and we need him to take on those challenges. There’ll be a lot more big games for that guy.”

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

LeBron James doesn't regret breaking Celtics-Lakers routine to watch son play

LeBron James doesn't regret breaking Celtics-Lakers routine to watch son play

BOSTON -- How LeBron James got to Boston on Monday afternoon is up for debate.

One report suggested the Los Angeles Lakers star took a private helicopter from Springfield, Mass., to TD Garden ahead of his game against the Boston Celtics. The Athletic's Joe Vardon reported that James rode in a car like anyone else.

James quipped after the game that he "walked" the 90-mile distance: "I walked and they didn’t call it."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

What's undisputed is that James messed with his pregame routine Monday to watch his son Bronny James, a freshman at Sierra Canyon (Calif.) High School, play in Springfield's Hoophall Classic.

Bronny's squad played at 1 p.m. ET, meaning James had to attend the Lakers' pregame meeting Monday morning, haul out to Springfield to watch his son, and then hightail it back to play a primetime NBA game against a quality opponent.

According to Vardon, James napped in the car on the way to and from his son's game to try to maintain some normalcy. Not that he minded the disruption.

"I’d break every routine in my life for my family," James said after the game. "Listen, if the gods are with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe, but my routine was broke today. 

"But I could care less if I’m seeing my family, my wife and my daughter and my kids. It was a unique opportunity for me to see my son play live that close to where I’m at."

The Celtics likely are glad James logged the extra travel; the Lakers star scored just 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting (with seven rebounds and 13 assists) as Boston cruised to a 139-107 win.

Bronny also struggled Monday, failing to score in Sierra Canyon's loss to Paul VI. But the final scores were the only issue James had with his busy travel day in Massachusetts.

"I didn’t mind going down to Springfield to check the game out,” James said. “The only bad thing about today was that I took two L’s. The 'James Gang' took two L’s, but there are always better days."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Why LeBron James reportedly arrived at Celtics-Lakers via helicopter

Why LeBron James reportedly arrived at Celtics-Lakers via helicopter

LeBron James did what any good dad would do Monday -- with a little extra help.

The Los Angeles Lakers star's son, Bronny, plays for Sierra Canyon (Calif.) High School, which happened to be in Springfield, Mass., on Monday to compete in the Hoophall Classic.

Sierra Canyon played Paul VI at 1 p.m. ET, so James, whose Lakers were in town to play the Boston Celtics on Monday night, decided to go watch his son play.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

James then had to hightail it from Springfield to Boston -- about 92 miles and a 90-minute drive on a good day -- to get ready for Celtics-Lakers.

But rather than sit in traffic on the Mass Pike, James took a private helicopter, according to The Athletic's Jared Weiss.

That's a true helicopter parent.

James' express mode of transportation apparently worked: He arrived at the Garden on time and didn't miss the team's shootaround that morning, according to Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

"I saw him at the meeting this morning, I saw him on my phone this afternoon (at the Hoophall Classic), and I saw him in the locker room tonight," Vogel said before Monday's game, adding he had "no idea" how James got to or from Boston.

Sierra Canyon's game wasn't without incident, either: Bronny was held scoreless in the team's loss to Paul VI and a fan was caught throwing a piece of candy at him, prompting an admonishment from LeBron on Twitter.

The Celtics are hoping James' busy day wears him down a bit as they aim snap a three-game losing streak.

UPDATE (Tuesday, Jan. 21, 7 a.m. ET): Apparently James didn't take a chopper to Boston, after all.

The Athletic's Joe Vardon reported that the Lakers star made the Springfield-to-Boston trip in a car, citing someone who was with him for the drive.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.