Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum responded to all of the negative noise regarding his team leadership on Friday night when he posted a 53 point double-double to propel the Celtics to an overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Most impressively, no matter how much they were down, Tatum wasn’t going to allow the Celtics to lose this game.

Jayson Tatum scored a career high 53 points en route to the Boston Celtics victory over the Timberwolves

After a first half that consisted of Tatum scoring a game-high 18 points and receiving a technical foul just before halftime. The Celtics were still down by nine points. But Tatum went on to score 35 points in the second half and overtime time en route to a career night for the young 23 year-old franchise pillar.

“Scoring 50 is a big thing in this league, and especially at this age. It’ll be a night I always remember. First 50-point game and we got the win on top of that. Big win. Every win right now is big.” – Jayson Tatum, via Souichi Terada of MassLive

Tatum finished the night shooting 64 percent from the field and made six 3-pointers along the way. He was hitting from all over the court and was aggressively driving to the basket, which earned him 16 trips to the free throw line and making 15 of them.

There was a point in the game where Tatum recognized that he could take advantage of his aggressiveness and use it to help his team.

“Attacking a little bit more. Then just knowing the bonus situation. We got them in the bonus a little bit early in a couple of those quarters.” – Jayson Tatum, via Souichi Terada of MassLive

This is a big leap in Tatum’s development as a professional. We haven’t seen the willingness to keep the Celtics from losing in Tatum’s game much in his career just yet. We’ve seen the clutch element in Tatum, but not so much the comeback and takeover of games to give the Celtics a victory.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said this about Tatum after the Celtics pulled out a 145-136 overtime victory.

“He was super special tonight. It was a lot like what I recall about Isaiah on so many occasions. He just wouldn’t let us lose. Tatum was like that. When we were coming back in the third, you could see he had it.” – Brad Stevens, via Jacob Camenker of NBC Sports Boston

Tatum became the youngest player in Boston Celtics franchise history to score 50+ points in a game. He also is the first Celtics player to score at least 53 points in a game since Larry Bird dropped 60 in 1985. It was a special night for Tatum, as he joined some elite company along the way.

“It’s kinda hard to put into words. Anytime you’re mentioned in any category with someone [Bird] like that, one of the greatest players ever, is an honor.” – Jayson Tatum, via Marc D’Amico of NBA

With Tatum’s continued ability to create for himself and score at an efficient rate, the Boston Celtics should feel confident in a strong finish to the second half of the season and for a hopeful playoff run. Once Tatum gets going, he open’s up the floor for the other capable scorers on the team in Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.

The Boston Celtics advanced to a 27-26 record, which is good for seventh best in an extremely tight Eastern Conference. However, the conference is so tight right now that with just a few more wins, the Celtics can easily get themselves into the top five before the regular season ends. They just need to continue playing as a team, as they can’t afford to lose many more games.

The Boston Celtics play next on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Nuggets.

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