“When you’re missing shots, you know what you’re capable of, and sometimes you’ve got to laugh it off,” Tatum said. “It’s as simple as sometimes you just don’t make shots. You play so many games.”
Tatum had 31 points by halftime and reached 50 on a drive to the basket with about 4:30 remaining in the game. He added a technical-foul free throw with 3:55 to play and then checked out of the game while the crowd in Washington, which included plenty of green-clad Boston fans, gave him a standing ovation.
“That’s an incredible feeling,” Tatum said. “Seeing so many fans on road with a Tatum ‘0’ jersey on — something I don’t take for granted. I understand there’s 450 some-odd guys in the league, and they took the time to go buy my jersey.”
Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards, who never led in coach Wes Unseld Jr.’s return from being on the COVID-19 health and safety protocol list. Washington, which has one game remaining on an eight-game homestand, has dropped three in a row.
Boston led 46-45 in the second quarter, but Tatum’s 17-footer started a 14-0 run to close the half. Tatum added a couple free throws and two 3-pointers during that stretch and finished with 18 points in the quarter.
“It pretty much came down to the end of the second quarter,” Unseld said. “Essentially, that was the game.”
Tatum reached 40 points with a couple free throws with 4:48 left in the third. Moments later, a dunk put him even with his season high of 42 that he set last month against Milwaukee. He added two more 3s before the quarter was over, the second of which put Boston up 89-62.
“To Tatum‘s credit, he had a night,” Unseld said. “Obviously, 51 points, it’s a real number. I think he was 6 for 8 on pull-up 3s, which are tough shots. No excuse. He’s been struggling, but he found his rhythm tonight.”
“We were getting a little iso-heavy, stagnant there,” Udoka said. “We’ve obviously had our troubles closing, so, get him back in and try to finish the game.”
Boston’s Marcus Smart played for the first time since Jan. 10 after he went through health and safety protocols. He scored 11 points.
Wizards: Assistant Pat Delany coached the Wizards for one game in Unseld’s absence before he also entered health and safety protocols. Then Joseph Blair coached the next three games. … Deni Avdija scored 13 points with seven rebounds.
Celtics: Host Sacramento on Tuesday night.
Wizards: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
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