Boston Celtics

Mazzulla has high praise for Tatum's growth, consistency as NBA superstar

"When you get to the point where you're as good as he is, people just take you for granted."

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The Indiana Pacers had no answers for Jayson Tatum on Saturday night.

The Boston Celtics superstar scored a game-high 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting, including eight 3-pointers, in a 118-101 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The Celtics led 84-81 entering the fourth quarter, and that's when Tatum stepped up and carried his team to victory. He scored 15 points over the final 12 minutes, helping the C's outscore the Pacers 34-20 in the quarter.

Tatum didn't just make an impact with his scoring. He grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds with six assists in 38 minutes. It was the type of elite two-way performance we see time and time again from the 25-year-old forward.

Tatum is averaging 27.7 points per game this season. He has scored 30 or more points in three consecutive games and five of the last seven. It's easy to take his consistently elite scoring for granted because he's been playing at this level for three years now.

"It's actually the ultimate compliment, I was telling him, when you get to the point where you're so good from a basketball standpoint and you want to get better and have such high character that people can take you for granted," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said in his postgame press conference. "I think that's the ultimate compliment, because they think you're just supposed to do that.

"His growth as a player in the last month I think has exponentially just jumped. The patience that he's playing with on drives. His potential assist average, his screening, his ability to know he needs to make his teammates better. He had 38 points on 23 shots and I didn't think he forced very much. ... He had 38-14-6. If another player in the league does that, that's all people talk about. And he does it and it's like, 'Oh, KP got hurt in the first half' and all that stuff. ... When you get to the point where you're as good as he is, people just take you for granted. I think that's the ultimate compliment."

Joe Mazzulla gave Jayson Tatum high praise after his dominant performance against the Pacers.

Tatum, when asked after the game about being taken for granted, explained that he's just focused on getting the Celtics to Banner 18.

"I don't look for that praise anymore," Tatum said in his press conference. "I've accomplished a lot in this league, and I'm truly at that point where I want to get over that hump, I want to get back to the Finals, I want to help us win a championship.

"What I'm doing -- I might not win MVP -- but just trying to help us continue to be the best team in the league and do my part. If people recognize that and see it, I appreciate it, but if they don't, that's OK."

Tatum and the Celtics are back in action Monday night when they play the Pacers in Indiana again.

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