By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Isaiah Thomas scored a career-high 52 points on Friday night against the Heat, but the historic performance did not please all his critics. Instead, the detractors pointed to his zero assists in the box score as another opportunity to knock the 5-foot-9.
Thomas appeared to catch wind of the criticism on social media over the past few days and responded in kind on Tuesday night against the Jazz, posting a career-high 15 assists and 29 points in the Celtics’ 115-104 victory over the Jazz.
The victory marked Boston’s eighth win in the last 10 games since Thomas returned from a groin injury, but Isaiah’s teammates had no doubt about the message their point guard was sending with the performance.
“I think he made a choice tonight. He didn’t like that [criticism],” Crowder explained. “That’s the first thing he said after the 50-point game was ‘I had zero assists,’ and tonight he showed he can do both.”
“It was great,” Al Horford said of the performance. “I just think it just shows his versatility as a player. As a player he got a lot of slack for whatever reason for scoring so much and not having enough assists [Friday] so [Tuesday] he gets 29 [points] and 15 [assists]. It just shows how good he is.”
While Thomas had two of the best games of his career in back-to-back games, his impressive run of success dates back even further. Take a closer look at his numbers during the last eight games:
Those aren’t just All-Star numbers, they are averages that would put Thomas into consideration with the league’s best offensive players over that stretch. The solid play comes as no surprises to Brad Stevens, who has seen his team’s offense improve substantially in the last two months as Thomas has become an even better playmaker.
“I don’t know how much more attention he can attract, I mean, because he’s been doing it here for two years,” Stevens said Tuesday night. “He’s been a huge focal point and people have blitzed him and switched him and done pretty much everything you can do. But he’s always going to attract everybody’s best effort; that’s for sure. And he’s a heck of a tough shot maker; he made tough shots again tonight.”
The Utah Jazz have a top-3 NBA defense but looked helpless for most of the night in slowing down Thomas. After the game, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward could only tip his cap knowing that they had become one of several teams that have no answers for the point guard.
“He’s having a hell of a year so he’s not just doing it against us,” Hayward said. “He’s doing it against everybody.”
After putting together the best stretch of games in his career, Isaiah Thomas thinks he’s only scratching the surface of what he can accomplish in green.
“I’m not at my peak,” Thomas said. “I’ve got a lot more. A lot more to go.”
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.