Jayson Tatum scored 36 points and the Boston Celtics ended a long road trip on a high note by defeating the Sacramento Kings 132-109 on Tuesday night.
Boston bounced back from blowing a 19-point lead in Utah on Saturday night by knocking off one of the top teams in the Western Conference. It won four of six on the trip.
Jaylen Brown added 27 points and Derrick White scored 20 to help the Celtics open up a one-game lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.
“He just did a great job coming out of the gate,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla stated of Tatum. “I thought him and Jaylen did a great job controlling the game with their decision-making.”
Domantas Sabonis had 16 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for the Kings, who lost consecutive matches for the first time since Feb. 3-5. De’Aaron Fox scored 18 points.
“They kicked our behinds,” coach Mike Brown said. “It started with me. We all got our behinds kicked. There’s nothing tricky or hidden behind what I’m saying. They switched everything and turned us over.”
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Sacramento fell 1 1/2 games behind Memphis in the race for second place in the Western Conference.
The Kings are trying to clinch their first playoff berth since 2006 — the longest postseason drought in NBA history.
Playing their fifth match in seven nights in their fourth time zone, the Kings offered little defensive resistance for Boston.
The Celtics shot 53.3% from the field, turned the ball over only five times and took control of the game during a torrid shooting stretch coming out of halftime.
“I was pleased with the mindset,” Mazzulla said. “The most important thing is we managed the turnovers. … We have to maintain a level of perspective. This was a hard road trip.”
Boston hit 10 of its first 11 shots from the field in the third quarter, scoring 27 points in less than six minutes to build the lead up to 14 points on a 3-pointer by White.
The Kings never really threatened after that.
“I feel like we all kind of felt it today,” Sabonis said. “It’s not an excuse. That’s a part of the schedule. Every team goes through it. At the end of the day we just had to fight through it and do a better job in the second half.”
The Celtics scored the final nine points of the first half on 3-pointers by Al Horford and Brown, and a three-point play by Tatum to take a 60-54 lead at the break.
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