Celtics stars Tatum and Brown put on quite an All-Star show

Feb 19, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Feb 20, 2023, 7:27 am

Team Giannis forward Jayson Tatum (0) dunks during the second half of the NBA basketball All-Star g...

Team Giannis forward Jayson Tatum (0) dunks during the second half of the NBA basketball All-Star game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rob Gray)

(AP Photo/Rob Gray)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Best record in the NBA. A team that won the Eastern Conference and went to the NBA Finals last season. A pair of All-Stars, including the MVP. And a coach who isn’t an interim coach anymore.

The Boston Celtics have much to like about where they are right now.

Jayson Tatum’s All-Star scoring records — 55 points in the game, 27 points in the third quarter, both numbers that never have been touched by any of the other 449 All-Stars in league history — were the big story coming out of Team Giannis’ 184-175 victory over Team LeBron on Sunday night.

And it might have signaled that the soon-to-be 25-year-old Tatum — Boston’s first All-Star MVP since Larry Bird in 1982 — is ready to take the step from stardom to something even bigger.

“I guess I’m not 19 anymore,” said Tatum, whose birthday is March 3. “But yeah, I say it all the time. I’m extremely grateful and blessed to be in this situation. I’m not too far removed from being a kid in St. Louis with essentially a ball and a dream and dreaming about these moments of being here. And living out that dream, in reality, is hard to describe. I try not to really think about the things I’ve accomplished. I never want to get complacent. I’m always chasing something, chasing more.”

That chase resumes Thursday night, when the Celtics open their post-All-Star slate in Indiana. Boston takes a league-best 42-17 record into the stretch run, a half-game better than Milwaukee (41-17) for the top spots in both the East and the NBA. But the Bucks are ailing; Khris Middleton’s knee is a concern, and winning All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo played only 20 seconds Sunday night because of a wrist issue.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are soaring. Tatum and Jaylen Brown — playing for Team LeBron — combined for 90 points in the All-Star Game, further solidifying themselves as one of the best pairings in the league right now.

And the last minute of the third quarter of the All-Star Game was basically them playing 1-on-1. Everyone else on the court stopped to let it happen. Brown went first, hitting a stepback from near the right corner. Tatum lost the ball off the dribble on the next possession. They weren’t done; Brown made a 3 over Tatum, hitting him with the “too small” move while laughing. Tatum then made a 3 of his own, and the battle ended when he stopped Brown from getting a shot off before the end-of-quarter buzzer sounded.

“Going against my brother in Jayson, going back and forth, it was like no one was in there at all,” Brown said.

Sitting back and watching it all was Celtics coach — and Team Giannis coach — Joe Mazzulla, who isn’t Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla anymore. Boston made him the permanent coach last week, no surprise after he has kept the Celtics on a title-contending path even after he had to take over for now-former coach Ime Udoka on almost no notice just before training camp. Udoka was suspended over inappropriate conduct with a Celtics employee.

The last time Mazzulla was a head coach without an interim title was March 16, 2019. It was in the NCAA Division II tournament, when his Fairmont State club lost a first-round game to Mercyhurst.

“I’m going to miss that term, I guess, a little bit,” Mazzulla said. “And my thing is, the interim tag was never a thing because we’re all interims. You have to kind of have a short-term view but also a long-term. … As coaches, we’re here to make the game. The game’s not ours. It doesn’t belong to us. What matters is the seeds that we plant, and the things that we’re able to accomplish with the team.”

In Boston, the seeds are planted. Brown and Tatum have blossomed into full-grown stars. And the Celtics have reason to have the biggest goal of all down the stretch this season.

“Historically, or at least since I’ve been in the league, the team that has kind of clicked in this last stretch, has kind of peaked and played their best of the season going into the playoffs, usually is the team that wins it all,” Tatum said. “So, this stretch is important. You want to be as healthy as possible going into the playoffs. You want to be playing your best basketball, individually and as a group. That’s what we’re trying to do.”


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Celtics stars Tatum and Brown put on quite an All-Star show