Jayson Tatum’s 36 points was just enough for the Boston Celtics to beat the Chicago Bulls 123-119 on Friday.
In front of home fans in Boston, the Celtics used a 37-26 second quarter to fight back from a slow start and take a 63-57 halftime lead.
Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan would try to bring his team back into the competition in the third period, scoring 16 points in the quarter to cut the lead to 88-85 and set up a thrilling final term.
DeRozan added 11 more points in the fourth, finishing with a game-high 46 as he lived on the free-throw line. He was successful on 13 of his 23 field goal attempts and added another 20 points on his 22 free throw attempts.
Tatum staged his big game similarly, although he was less effective on the pitch. He finished eight of 23 but hit 17 of 20 from the free throw line and had 11 points in the final quarter to fend off the Bulls’ late charge.
Tatum’s running mate Jaylen Brown had a quieter game, scoring 16 points on six of 14 shooting, but Malcolm Brogdon rose to the occasion off the Celtics bench.
Brogdon was clearly Boston’s second-best player, shooting a hyper-effective nine-for-10 from the field to rack up 25 points and four assists in 29 minutes.
Luka’s magic leads to eighth consecutive 30-point performance
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks is now one of two players to score at least 30 points in the first eight games of an NBA season, scoring 35 in a 111-110 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Doncic joins the great Wilt Chamberlain in this honour, the ‘Big Dipper’ having accomplished it twice. Chamberlain started the 1959-60 season with eight straight 30-point games, before hitting that benchmark in the first 23 games of the 1962-63 season for a record that will likely never be broken.
The 23-year-old Slovenian was 10 of 15 from the field for his 35 points, and he added eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block.
OG Anunoby was the shining light for the Raptors, scoring 27 points (11 of 21 shooting) with seven rebounds and five steals.
Mathurin shows star potential for the Pacers
Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin displayed some intriguing upside as he scored 23 points off the bench in an upset 101-99 win over the Miami Heat.
Mathurin, the sixth overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, has now scored at least 23 points in four of his nine NBA games, and scored just under 15 points on one occasion.
The six-foot-six scoring wing was five of 11 from the field, three of seven from long range and 10 of 12 from the free throw line in a well-rounded performance, finishing with a plus/minus of plus four in 37 minutes.
Bucks win again, go undefeated
The Milwaukee Bucks, still missing All-Star Khris Middleton, continue to look like the best team in the league after going 8-0 with a convincing 115-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a game where two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was not scoring the ball effectively, finishing with 26 points on seven-of-17 shooting and a poor 10-of-20 from the free throw line, Jrue Holiday took over.
To Antetokounmpo’s credit, he also added 13 rebounds and 11 assists for a solid triple-double, but Holiday was the star of the show, shooting 50% from the field (12 of 24) for his 29 points, while grabbing eight rebounds, delivering six assists and snatching two steals to complete a terrific performance.
It’s the first time in franchise history that the Bucks have started an 8-0 season.