Celtics-Mavericks recap: Tatum wins tournament MVP battle

Luka Doncic performed at the TD Garden on Wednesday night, but it was the Boston Celtics who prevailed with their 125-112 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The C revolted by 70 points in the first half. They led by 21 points in the third quarter, and although the Mavs made it interesting down the stretch, it fell far behind against Jayson Tatum and Co.

Tatum (37 points) went toe-to-toe with Doncic (42 points) in the battle for MVP of the tournament. The difference was that Tatum had help from his supporting cast. Jaylen Brown (31 points) helped support Doncic’s claim that he and Tatum are the best pairing in the NBA. Six Celtics players scored in double figures.

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Next up for the Celtics is Friday night’s showdown with the Sacramento Kings. Here are three notes from Wednesday’s win, which brings the record to 14-4.

Jason Tatum’s ankle is fine

Tatum’s status in this game was in question as he was listed on Tuesday’s Celtics injury report with a sprained left ankle. He was cleared to play less than two hours before warning, and the injury didn’t seem to bother him at all.

Most NBA players would be happy to finish a game with Tatum’s base line in the first half. The Celtics star entered the half with 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block.

In the clash of MVP candidates, Tatum made a statement against likely favorite Doncic. He hit his double-double of the season midway through the third quarter. He put an exclamation mark on the game when he was blasted by Doncic for a dunk late in the fourth quarter, then dismissed at the rim shortly thereafter.

Tatum finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The 24-year-old again excelled at hitting the charity bar, shooting 13-of-15 from the line. This is still a recipe for success.

Luka Doncic can’t do everything

Doncic did his best to put his team on his back. The NBA scoring leader and runner-up to the MVP scored 42 points on 17-for-28 shooting. It was another MVP-caliber performance from the Mavs star, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with a more balanced Celtics team.

Doncic’s stark stat: Just one touchdown pass until 3:57 in the third quarter. The inability to field others – something Doncic usually excels at (8.1 assists per game) – was a problem most of the night. While he finished with nine assists and that helped Dallas lead in the second half, it was too late.

Doncic also finished with nine rebounds. The 23-year-old becomes the second-fastest player in NBA history to reach 7,500 points, 2,000+ rebounds, and 2,000+ assists, trailing only the great Oscar Robertson.

As the Celtics bounced back from Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, so did Al Horford.

The veteran big man gave up his 0-for-9 (0-7 3-PT) performance and was key to Boston’s victory on Wednesday night. In fact, it was perfect. He dug all four of his 3-point attempts and finished 5-for-5 from the floor.

Horford closed out the night with a clutch 3 that extended the Celtics’ lead to 12 points with 3:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 36-year-old added five rebounds, four assists and a block to help propel Boston to victory.

Obviously, the night before Chicago was just a blip on the radar. So far in November, Horford has scored less than 10 points just twice in 10 games and shot 55 percent from the field. He’ll be looking to continue Friday against Sacramento.


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