Boston shines with a 23-point victory in Sacramento
The Boston Celtics shone brightly in Sacramento on Tuesday night, capping off a season-high six-game road trip with one of their brightest victories of the season.
The Celtics easily defeated the NBA's hottest team, the Sacramento Kings, 132-109, in what was expected to be the most difficult matchup of their two-week journey. It was the most lopsided victory by a visiting team at Golden 1 Center since Boston defeated Sacramento 126-97 on March 18, 2022.
The Kings entered the night having won 11 of 14 games since the All-Star break, the best record in the league. Among those victories were several at home, prompting them to shine their trademark purple beam into the Sacramento night sky.
Jayson Tatum led the charge with his highest-scoring game of the trip, a 36-point performance on 14-of-25 field shooting, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He was one of three Celtics players to score 20 points, joining Jaylen Brown (27 points, five rebounds, and four assists) and Derrick White (20 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, and two blocks).
With Marcus Smart's 17 points and Al Horford's 11, Boston's starters outscored Sacramento's starters by a massive 111-68 margin. For the first time this season, the Kings did not have a single 20-point scorer at home.
"That looked like the team I knew," Brown, who averaged 30.2 points per game on the trip, said. "We came out, we played 48 minutes, we didn't let up, and we took care of business." "We finished the road trip well, returned home, and resumed business."
It also appeared to be the Jayson Tatum we knew. JT finally shot above 50% for the first time during the trip after a string of poor shooting performances. With his 39th 30-point game of the season, he also tied Larry Bird's franchise record for most 30-point games in a single season.
"I think we came out with purpose," Tatum said of his team's comeback performance after a heartbreaking loss in Utah on Saturday night. "Obviously, the loss last game was disappointing, but how you respond is everything." Tonight, we played the way we know how to play."
The Celtics accomplished this by winning all of the crucial margins outlined by head coach Joe Mazzulla. They won the battles of free throws, rebounding (both total and offensive), assists, and turnovers, and shot more efficiently than the Kings overall.
The assist-to-turnover ratio was an impressive 33:5, marking only the third time in franchise history that the team provided at least 30 assists while turning the ball over five times or less.
During his postgame speech inside the visitor's locker room, Mazzulla proudly stated, "That's the team I know."
The fact that Rob Williams was back in the lineup helped the C's look more like the team of old. Williams returned from an eight-game injury absence, scoring six points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking one shot in just under 21 minutes off the bench.
His presence made a significant difference in the Celtics' ability to end Sacramento's franchise-record seven-game streak of scoring at least 122 points at home.
"Obviously, when he's out there, we're a lot bigger, and his presence just makes us more dynamic," Tatum said. "Even if he isn't blocking shots, he may be discouraging people from attacking the basket. He's grabbing rebounds, giving us second and third chances, and he's obviously a lob threat. We're a different team now that we have the starters and Rob back."
For the first time this season, a different team got to literally light the beam against the Kings, as Boston lit it green.