Monday, February 20, 2023

Jayson Tatum scores 55 points in battle with Jaylen Brown to win NBA All-Star MVP

Jayson Tatum checked off another accomplishment on his bucket list of goals to reach, as he led Team Giannis to a 184-175 victory over Team LeBron in Sunday night's All-Star Game at Vivint Arena.

The Celtics forward not only set a new All Star Game record by notching 55 points on 22-of-31 from the field, including 10-of-18 from deep, he also added a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with six assists to win MVP honors; an award named after the late Kobe Bryant -- his all-time favorite player.

Tatum, who was Giannis Antetokounmpo's first pick among the starters, scored 27 points in the third quarter alone (another All Star Game record for the most points in a period) to help the Bucks forward improve to 1-2 as an All-Star captain and LeBron James falling to 5-1.
"It means the world when you think of all the legends and great players that have played in this game," Tatum said during his postgame interview with TNT's Ernie Johnson. "And in all honesty, records are meant to be broken. So I'll own it for as long as I can, but I'm certain somebody will come along in a couple of years and try to break it."
Donovan Mitchell added 40 points, 10 assists and 3-point champion Damian Lillard chipped in 26 points, including the game winning 3-pointer for Team Giannis -- who was coached by newly promoted Joe Mazulla and the rest of his coaching staff.

The other Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown led Team LeBron with 35 points on 16-of-27 from the floor, 14 rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes of action as a reserve -- while he debuted a new black protective mask in his first game since suffering a facial fracture 10 days ago.
"It takes sacrifice on my behalf, it's definitely a lot of opportunities where you can be a guy, but the ultimate goal for me and Jayson has always been to win games," Brown said at Saturday's Media Day in Salt Lake City. "When you see team dynamics, there's nothing wrong with doing your job on a team. Throughout my career, I've learned to play the role that's been needed for me to play, and I think that's a part of why our success has been able to happen. Being able to humble yourself, and be like, yeah, I know I can be something somewhere else, but there's no problem being a great team guy and winning here in Boston."
The two Celtics teammates went head-to-head for a second time (first since 2021) in All-Star play, as Brown and Tatum exchanged jumpers over each other, going one-on-one before time ran out to close out the third quarter -- in what was the game's best sequence.
"That was like another day at the office for us, we've been on the same team for six years now," Tatum said in his postgame presser "We've played countless number of one-on-one games, scrimmages against each other. We've always kind of brought the best out of each other. It was a normal day for us, just millions of people watching on one of the biggest stages, so we had a little fun with it.
"We were just trying to be competitive a little bit. Trying to stay safe, but have some fun with it. Show JB he can't score on me," Tatum added.
Kyrie Irving had 32 points, 15 assists and Joel Embiid also recorded 32 points in the loss for Team LeBron -- who'll donate $200,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. Meanwhile, with Team Giannis winning -- $550,000 will go to Raise the Future Organization.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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