Monday, January 1, 2024

Celtics 134, Spurs 101: Jayson Tatum lead C's to sixth straight victory to end 2023

The Celtics keep rolling after 134-101 blowout victory over the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night at Frost Bank Center to close out the 2023 calendar year with six straight wins.

Jayson Tatum (ankle) returned from a one-game absence to finish with 25 points on 10-of-17 from the field and 5-of-10 from deep, while Jaylen Brown added 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting to lead Boston -- who has improved to 10-6 on the road.

Derrick White had 17 points, five assists against his former team and Kristaps Porzingis (calf) also returned from sitting out in the team's 120-118 win over the Toronto Raptors to record 14 points, nine rebounds for the C's -- that had six players register double-digit scoring and without Jrue Holiday (elbow sprain) in the lineup.
"We got stops," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. "I thought we were really good at doing both, protecting the paint and getting out to contest, which allowed us to get out in transition. I think our secondary transition, we did a good job of recognizing where the mismatch was and getting to it fast and playing together as a team through it."
Devin Vassell had 22 points, while rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama recorded 21 points and seven rebounds to lead the Spurs -- who dropped to 5-27 after losing seven of their last nine.

The Celtics never trailed in this one from wire-to-wire, leading by as many as 37 points and outscoring San Antonio 40-23 in the third quarter, before the starters sat out most of the final frame to beat the last place team in the west.
"They are a championship-caliber team, that's what they are out there for, that's their goal, and they proved it once again," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in his postgame comments. "Joe does a great job with them. They've got good talent, obviously, all-star talent; and they've got the grit. They've got the execution and getting better all the time. That's a tough challenge at this particular time for our group."
Boston wrapped up the month of December with a 12-2 record and 26-6 overall, which is a league best.

The Celtics play their first game of the new year on Tuesday night against the Thunder (22-9) in Oklahoma City.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 53.7% of their attempts from the field, including 15-of-42 (35.7%) from deep, while the Spurs were 42.6% from the floor and 12-of-45 (26.7%) from 3-point range. The Celtics outscored the home team 58-50 in the paint and out-rebounded them 57-39. The C's handed out 29 assists (11 turnovers) on 51 baskets (10 dunks) and San Antonio dished out 28 dimes (16 turnovers) on 40 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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