It is not daily that a single player’s performance inspires an away crowd to cheer for them. With 51 points, seven shots from three, nine rebounds, and five assists, Jayson Tatum received “MVP” chants from the fans in Charlotte on Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the Boston Celtics sealed the deal against the Charlotte Hornets 130-118.
Tatum also shot a perfect 14/14 from the free-throw line. With this incredible performance, Tatum now holds the most fifty-point games in Celtics history with five, overtaking Larry Bird.
When Tatum had 48 points in the game’s closing seconds, the Hornets fanbase momentarily converted as their frustrated young team dropped their chins. The Queen City’s residents made their appreciation heard as Tatum pulled up for the three-point shot to put the nail in the coffin. Tatum also placed himself in all-time scoring performances on MLK Day. Tatum made a big leap and is now tied with Gilbert Arenas in third place behind Damian Lillard (61) and Kemba Walker (52). Tatum became the fourth player to score at least 50 points on MLK day. Meanwhile, his teammate Blake Griffin, who celebrated this holiday with a 47-point outing in 2011, moved down on the list.
The Celtics continue to separate themselves from the rest. About halfway through the NBA season, and with the All-Star Break around the corner, the Celtics have 4.5 games between them and the second-seed Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference. While the race is incredibly tight in the West, with half a game separating the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzles, the Celtics currently hold the best record in the league with 33 wins and 12 losses.
The 24-year-old has been stellar for the Celtics so far this season and is in a great spot to contend for the MVP award. The Celtics have also been great overall and will only improve further once Jaylen Brown returns from injury. With a whole other half of the season yet to be played, it is hard to guarantee their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance. But with momentum clearly on their side, best believe that Tatum and the Celtics will not be slowing down any time soon.