Jayson Tatum bounces back in Celtics Game 3 win over Cavs


Tatum led the Celtics in points, rebounds, and assists on Saturday night.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in nearly every area on the floor Saturday. (Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff)

Jayson Tatum probably heard the criticism NBA fans and media hurled his way following the Celtics’ Game 2 blowout loss.

His response was a Tatum takeover in a comfortable 13-point win on Saturday night.

Tatum scored 33 points, and added 13 rebounds and six assists. He either led Boston or shared the lead in all five major statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. All while playing just shy of 42 minutes in Game 3.

“JT is a special player. He always figures it out,” Al Horford said in his postgame interview. “He’s the last guy I worry about, he’s going to be fine, he’s been doing this for a long time now.”

In the first half on Saturday, Tatum didn’t dominate time of possession for the Celtics. He still allowed his teammates to get into a rhythm — Jrue Holiday had 15 points in the first half, and Jaylen Brown finished his night with 28.

In the second half, once Cleveland started chipping away at Boston’s lead, Tatum demanded the ball more. And, though he shot a modest 11 of 25 from the field, he made key plays that helped keep the Cavaliers at bay.

“He’s a great player that gets taken advantage of because he’s been really good for a long time,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Tatum postgame. “Under-appreciated. I thought he played a great game on both ends of the floor.”

His command went beyond the on-court play as well. Boston carried a nine-point cushion into the locker room at halftime, but according to Horford, Tatum sent strong messaging to his teammates. Horford credited Tatum as a main driving force for sparking the Celtics’ 14-0 run at the beginning of the third quarter.

“JT challenged us at halftime to make sure we were more assertive and got off to a good start in the third,” Horford said. “And we did a good job. We responded.”

Boston regained control of the series, two games to one, heading into Game 4 on Monday.

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