Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum aren’t just proving to be the best scoring duo in the NBA this season. They’re also rising up the statistical leaderboards among the greatest scoring duos of all time.
On Friday night, the Jays combined for 66 points in a 121-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with Brown erupting for a game-high 36 in the scoring column and Tatum finishing close behind with 30.
It marked the 17th time in their career in which they both scored 30-plus points in the same game, which pushed them past Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen into third place for the most 30-point games by a teammate tandem, according to the Elias Sports Bureau’s database which dates back to 1985 for that particular statistic.
Of course, Jordan and Pippen played in an entirely different era of offense than the Jays, but being just mentioned in the same sentence as arguably the greatest duo of all time is still quite an accomplishment.
Friday night’s game was a perfect example of how lethal Brown and Tatum can be as a one-two punch.
The Celtics entered halftime trailing Minnesota, 56-54, and at that point, Tatum had just 10 points and Brown only nine. However, they had an incredible second-half show in store for the fans at TD Garden.
The third quarter belonged to Tatum, as he poured in 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. JT’s effort helped the C’s take an 88-86 lead into the final frame before Brown took over with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting in a 33-23 Celtics fourth quarter.
Brown really needed a frame like that after shooting 5-for-15 from the field, 0-for-7 from long range, and 3-for-6 from the free-throw line through the first three quarters.
“Nobody was worried about JB,” Tatum said of Brown’s rough start and strong finish. “We know what he’s capable of and regardless of what happens in the first three quarters, you’re always just looking to what’s next, and that’s what he did tonight. It was big. We needed that to start the fourth.”
Brown added that his fourth-quarter effort “felt good. It felt really good. Obviously, I thought it was only a matter of time. The first three quarters was probably one of the ugliest stretches of basketball in my career. So, just stay with it, my teammates, I got some great teammates that encouraged me to keep going and it was just a matter of time.”
It’s also only a matter of time before Brown and Tatum move up to the next spot on the list mentioned above. They’re exactly halfway to passing Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s second-place mark of 33 games with 30-plus points apiece, and also halfway to tying Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s record of 34 games.
The Jays already have five such efforts in the 28 games they’ve played together this season and they currently have the highest combined scoring average among all duos with 57.0 points per game.
The scariest part is that they are both just reaching the beginning of their prime playing years, so if they stick together, they could wind up smashing Durant and Westbrook’s shared record.