SALT LAKE CITY – Jayson Tatum played fantastic basketball Wednesday night for the second time in as many games, but he and the Celtics were unable to keep up with the San Antonio Spurs during an 81-70 defeat in Utah.
Tatum finished the contest with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds. However, San Antonio used a balanced offensive attack and an emphasis on 3-point shooting to put Tatum and the C’s away.
Four Spurs combined to hit 13 3-pointers on 28 attempts, good for a 46.4 percent clip. San Antonio shot 11-for-22 from long range during the first three quarters as it opened up a 68-49 lead heading into the final period.
Bryn Forbes and Davis Bertans were the catalysts of San Antonio’s stellar performance from beyond the arc. Forbes canned six of his eight 3-pointers en route to his game-high 31 points, while Bertans shot 4-for-8 from long distance.
“I think Forbes and I think Bertans, it’s documented that they’ve made shots in this league before,” said Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen, who is acting as head coach of the team in Utah. “As a staff we’ve probably got to do a better job of preparing our guys to pay a little more attention to those guys, but you’ve kind of got to give them credit as well. They made shots.”
Boston just couldn’t keep pace with San Antonio’s ability to put the ball through the basket. After a brief lead to open up the game, the C’s fell behind 5-4 and trailed from that point forward.
Forbes paced the Spurs with 14 points during the first half as the Spurs took a 43-34 lead into halftime. He and Tatum, who totaled 15 points and six rebounds during the first half, were the top players on the floor during the opening half and beyond.
While Boston remained within striking distance for the majority of the night, San Antonio, on the back of Forbes’ play, built a comfortable lead during the third. Forbes canned four 3s during the period, and the Spurs hit six overall, to pull ahead by 19 points heading into the final frame.
Tatum, Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye did their best to give the Celtics a shot as the fourth quarter unwound. They combined to score 16 of Boston’s 21 points in the period and the C’s cut San Antonio’s lead down to nine, at 71-62, with 5:11 remaining when Tatum canned a jumper in the paint off of an entry pass from Ojeleye.
The Spurs, however, answered back immediately with their 12th 3-pointer of the game, off the hands of Bertans, to quickly push the lead back up to 12 with 4:48 remaining. Their lead never dropped to fewer than 10 points from that moment on.
Forbes’ 31 points led the game, but Tatum put together the most complete performance of the night. He notched his 23-point, 10-rebound performance while hitting 10 of his 18 shot attempts and while showcasing an inside-outside offensive game.
Nader, who finished with 14 points, was the only other notable performer for Boston. Bertans totaled 14 points for San Antonio, and Derrick White came off the Spurs bench to contribute 10 points.
Both teams now stand with a 1-1 record heading into the final day of play Thursday night at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. Boston will close out its three-game slate at 9 p.m. Wednesday night against the league’s host, the Utah Jazz. San Antonio, meanwhile, will take on the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m.