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Tatum erupts for 51; Celtics zap Hornets

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Jayson Tatum produced an electrifying 51-point display as the Boston Celtics marked the National Basketball Association’s Martin Luther King Day holiday schedule with a 130-118 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

Two days after scoring 33 points against Charlotte on Saturday, Tatum once again took center stage with a commanding performance as the Eastern Conference leaders claimed a seventh straight victory.

Tatum’s virtuoso display was one of several eye-catching individual performances around the NBA on Monday, with LeBron James erupting for 48 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over Houston and Golden State’s Stephen Curry scoring 41 points against Washington.

Tatum brought up his half century in the closing seconds, calmly draining a long-range three-pointer which drew roars of appreciation from the home crowd at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.

It was the final act of an 18-point fourth quarter from Tatum, who made 15-of-23 from the field with seven three-pointers, nine rebounds and five assists.

It marked the fifth time in Tatum’s career he has posted more than 50 points in a game. His career high remains a 60-point performance against San Antonio in 2021.

Monday’s tally also means the 24-year-old is the Celtics all-time leader in regular-season 50-point games, surpassing franchise icon Larry Bird’s total of four.

“It’s been a while since I scored 50, so I needed that one,” Tatum joked after the win, adding that scoring 51 points on the national holiday to honor civil rights hero King carried added meaning.

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