BOSTON (CBS) — Jayson Tatum didn’t just need a big game on Sunday. He needed to be efficient while having that big game.
Efficiency has been missing from Tatum’s game this season. He’s still putting up some big numbers for the Celtics on most nights, but he’s been struggling from the field — and even more so from beyond the arc — all season.READ MORE: Vince Wilfork voted into Patriots Hall Of Fame
Tatum entered Sunday’s tilt against the Wizards shooting a career-low 41.6 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from downtown. He had missed his last 20 threes over a four-game stretch heading into the contest, a frustrating new low for the C’s star.
But Tatum entered Capital One Arena sporting a sweatshirt that said “Believe In Yourself.” All of Boston now believes that better days are ahead for Tatum, after he bust out of his shooting slump by knocking down 18 of his 28 shots, including nine of 14 from long distance, on his way to a 51-point explosion against the Wizards.
Thanks to Tatum’s big day, which also included 10 rebounds and seven assists, the Celtics cruised to a 116-87 win to get back to .500 for the season. It’s the kind of game we all know Tatum possesses, but hadn’t seen yet during the 2021-22 campaign.
After dominating the Wizards, Tatum said that his choice of attire was not on purpose. But it was certainly fitting, with his confidence back thanks to Sunday’s scoring clinic.READ MORE: Patrice Bergeron named finalist for Selke Award for 11th straight season
Tatum knew early in the game that he was feeling it. He said that making his first shot — a three — really set the tone for the rest of his afternoon.
“As a scorer, especially when you’re kind of in a slump, to see that first shot — that first three — go in, you get it off your back,” Tatum said after the win. “The game just kind of opened up. When you get in that zone, there is nothing like it. You just keep going.”
Tatum kept going and the buckets kept coming. After assisting on Boston’s first basket of the game, Tatum then scored seven straight of his own. He finished with 13 points in the opening frame before adding 18 during the second quarter. He was up to 48 points through three quarters after dropping another 17 points in the third.
Tatum probably could have flirted with his second career 60-point game, but he only played a few minutes in the fourth quarter. He put in a driving layup with 4:36 left to give Boston a 24-point lead, and his afternoon ended after he hit a technical free throw with 3:55 left.
The Celtics star left the floor with a season-high in points, having eclipsed the 50-point mark for the fifth time in his career. The 23-year-old is now the Celtics’ all-time leader in 50-point games.MORE NEWS: A Tom Brady Roast is coming to Netflix
Tatum set a new career-high with his nine made threes on Sunday. Most importantly though, the Celtics star busted out of his shooting slump in a big way. Now he just needs to keep that hot hand going, something the Celtics desperately need as they look to climb in the Eastern Conference standings.