Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum shines in Celtics' 86-81 win over Lonzo Ball, Lakers

Jayson Tatum shines in Celtics' 86-81 win over Lonzo Ball, Lakers

LAS VEGAS -- Danny Ainge has said on more than one occasion that if he couldn’t trade away the number one pick last month, he would have used it to select Duke’s Jayson Tatum, a player Boston wound up getting two spots later in the draft.

After seeing Tatum perform against the top two picks in this year’s draft – Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz and on Saturday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, Ainge might have been on to something.

Saturday was the latest installment in what has been an impressive string of impressive performances for the 19-year-old Tatum who led the Celtics to a 86-81 win over the Lakers.

He led the Celtics with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

In matchups against Fultz and Ball, Tatum not only had better numbers but wound up getting the victory which speaks to both his impact as a player on the game and the bottom line – winning games.

But Tatum’s performance on Saturday was special because it came in front of a packed gym that was predominantly pro-Lakers.

And as the Lakers stormed out to a 10-0 lead to start the game, Tatum’s demeanor never changed.

As Boston chipped away at the Lakers early lead, there were plenty of Celtics chipping in with points or key rebounds or solid defensive stops.

But when it mattered most, it was Tatum delivering the big plays – not Ball who finished with a triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

And while it was just a summer league game, it certainly didn’t have the look or feel of one.

As you glanced at the fans sitting courtside during Boston’s Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers, larger-than-life athletes such as Floyd Mayweather could be seen.

And the usual cavernous scene high atop the Cox Pavilion Center on the University of Las Vegas campus was filled with fans, a seldom seen sell-out for a summer league game.

They weren’t there to reminisce over the epic battles waged between the two most storied franchises in NBA history.

They were there to see basketball – or rather Lonzo Ball who was selected by the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick.

When the summer league pairings were set up, this was supposed to be a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, presumably point guards Markelle Fultz and Ball.

But the Celtics traded the pick and so folks were left with a matchup that while not nearly as tantalizing, it was nonetheless well worth watching as Boston’s first-round pick Jayson Tatum did his part to keep the crowd engaged.

There were other standouts for both teams, for sure.

But when it came to oohs from the crowd, it was very much the Ball & Tatum show.

While Tatum’s strong showing has been exclusively against summer league talent, current Celtic guard Terry Rozier had a chance to play with him and the other summer league guys before they began playing summer league games.

Rozier liked what he saw, for sure.

“He can play,” Rozier said. “He never played rushed. He just played at his level of pace. He was great. He’s a good player.”

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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