Tatum scores 36, Celtics roll past Oklahoma City 132-123
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 36 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 132-123 on Monday night.
Tatum has scored 30-or-more points in his last three games, extending the streak on 11-of-19 shooting against Oklahoma City. Jaylen Brown added 25 points and Grant Williams scored 20.
“We came out with the right mindset offensively,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “Obviously, the second half was a little bit different. But we talked about going 4-0, finishing the (road) trip on the right foot and did that ultimately.”
Tre Mann set a Thunder franchise rookie scoring record with 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting and 7-of-12 sniping from 3-point range.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, back in the Thunder lineup after being held out of Sunday’s loss to Orlando, scored 31 points.
“I thought we hung in there,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “We took a pretty hard punch early and it took us a minute to stabilize the game. And even then, it was hard for us to get close.”
Boston opened the first quarter with a 13-0 run, creating a cushion it held most of the night.
The Celtics, who boasted the NBA’s best defensive rating entering Monday’s contest, struggled early to contain Mann, who was 8 for 8 from the floor in the second quarter.
Boston held a 65-51 lead entering the break and scored 43 points in the third to remain in control.
The Celtics’ advantage reached 26 points before the Thunder closed within single digits. But Oklahoma City was unable to complete the rally.
“They kept pushing and we got relaxed,” Udoka said. “They have some talented guys that got going late. Could be the end of the trip or second night of a back-to-back, whatever it may be. … It’s not always going to be the prettiest game, but we did well enough to maintain what we have, but we’ve got to be more focused.”
During their recent four-game road swing, the Celtics also picked up wins against Golden State, Sacramento and Denver, as they try to lock down a top-four seed in the postseason.
The Thunder have lost 10 consecutive games, but Daigneault was complimentary of his team’s effort.
“We ran through the finish line,” the second-year Thunder coach said. “I thought we really competed tonight against obviously a very good team. There are things we could improve on, but was really pleased with the competitive level.”
MANN OF THE HOUR
Mann, who the Thunder selected 18th overall in the 2021 NBA draft, became the first rookie in league history to hit seven consecutive 3-pointers in the first half.
His seven made 3-point shots also matches a Thunder rookie single-game record.
“One of the best things about going against elite teams is that everything is relevant,” Daigneault said. “The fact that he can wiggle around like that against these types of teams is really encouraging.”
Celtics: Marcus Smart (illness) and Robert Williams III (right knee) were unavailable. … Aaron Nesmith (right ankle) was cleared to play after missing Boston’s last seven games but did not enter Monday’s game. … Al Hordford returned to Paycom Center for the first time since playing for the Thunder last season. He registered seven assists, five rebounds and three points. … Payton Pritchard made 5-of-11 shots from the perimeter to finish with 18 points.
Thunder: Derrick Favors (back soreness), Josh Giddey (hip soreness), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (foot), Olivier Sarr (illness) and Kenrich Williams (left knee) were unavailable. … Darius Bazley (flu symptoms) was listed as questionable, but played 36 minutes, scoring 22 points and adding 10 rebounds. … Aleksej Pokusevski posted a season-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Celtics: Return home to face Utah on Wednesday.
Thunder: Host Orlando on Wednesday.
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