Jayson Tatum scores 60 points as Celtics rally from 32-point deficit to beat Spurs

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates after an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum during a 143-140 overtime victory against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Even a few members of the Boston Celtics couldn’t quite believe they pulled off their latest comeback.

The Celtics turned around a woeful first half, storming back from a 32-point deficit and beating the San Antonio Spurs 143-140 in overtime on Friday night.

Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 60 points for the Celtics, including 21 in the fourth quarter and 10 more in OT to cap the improbable comeback with a pair of free throws that sealed it with four seconds remaining.


“He did exactly what a great player is supposed to do,” Jaylen Brown said of Tatum, who reset his career-high twice in the month of April. “He was efficient, led us, hit timely shots — big baskets — real big-boy basketball. That’s what we need. We’re going to need that going forward.”

Lakers star LeBron James, who has missed 20 games because of a sprained right ankle, played in Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings.

April 30, 2021

Brown finished with 17 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left in OT that finally gave the Celtics the lead for good after the team had been booed off the court at halftime. Marcus Smart had 10 points and 12 assists, and Aaron Nesmith had 16 points and six rebounds for Boston.

“I think the best part was obviously coming back and winning and just seeing everybody contribute,” said Tatum, whose 60 points tied Larry Bird for the franchise scoring record in a single game. “That just kind of shows the growth of our team — to see everybody contributing when we’re down 30 points and just figuring out a way to win the game.

Tristan Thompson pulled down 15 rebounds and scored eight points for the Celtics, who moved a half-game up on idle Miami for sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Highlights from the Boston Celtics’ 143-140 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.


“We haven’t been this bad very often. The first half, this was a different level,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “We just have to stay in the moment and figure out how to be better for 48 minutes. That’s it. I’m proud of our resiliency, our resolve, our togetherness, our willingness to put aside whatever happened in the first half.”

San Antonio shot 71.4% in the first half, leading by as many as 32 points in the second quarter. The Spurs held a 31-point lead in the third before the Celtics started a furious rally that required an extra five minutes to complete.

DeMar DeRozan had 30 points and 14 assists for the Spurs. Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV finished with 24 points each, and Jakob Poeltl finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“We left the door open — too many opportunities,” DeRozan said.