BOSTON: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at the TD Garden. – AFP

LOS ANGELES: Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 60 points as the Boston Celtics stormed back from a 32-point first half deficit for a 143-140 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs at the Boston Garden. Tatum’s point total equalled Boston icon Larry Bird for the most points scored in a game in Celtic’s history and he is the second youngest player ever in the NBA behind Devin Booker to post a 60-point game.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Tatum said of owning the franchise record with Bird. “Maybe tomorrow I will realize how special it is.” The 23-year-old Tatum made four free throws in the final 12 seconds of overtime for the Celtics who roared back from a 29-point halftime deficit to level the score halfway through the fourth quarter on Friday night. Tatum’s previous career best was 53 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 9.

Tatum hit a three pointer with 38 seconds left in the fourth to give the Celtics their first lead 127-126 since early in the first quarter. Tatum drained another free throw with 18 seconds to play to give the Celtics’ a two point lead, but San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan tied the game with 10 seconds to go to set the stage for a thrilling overtime.

“That was a tough one,” Tatum said. “This game is what being a Celtic is all about. Never quit, never giving up. To be down 30 and come back in overtime and win, there is nothing like it.” Jaylen Brown added 17 points for the Celtics and Aaron Nesmith had 16 points. DeRozan scored 30 points and dished out a career-high 14 assists for the Spurs, who dropped to 31-31 on the season.

Lillard leads Trail Blazers over Nets
In New York, Damian Lillard finished with 32 points and nine assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a convincing 128-109 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Jusuf Nurkic delivered 23 points and 11 rebounds as Portland improved to 3-0 on a six-game road trip after losing five straight. Lillard drained eight three pointers for the Trail Blazers, who improved to 35-28 and are putting together a string of wins as they gear up for the playoffs.

“We have been terrible for awhile, but we are putting it together at the right time of the year,” Lillard said. “The way we have won games is more important than just getting the wins. “We defended and moved the ball. It is the way we want to play in the postseason.” Kyrie Irving scored 28 points for the Nets after sitting out Thursday’s 130-113 victory over the Indiana Pacers because of a groin problem.

Brooklyn star Kevin Durant, who missed 23 straight games earlier this season with a left hamstring injury, did not play. Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers used a balance attack to beat the Atlanta Hawks for the second consecutive game as seven players hit double figures in a 126-104 victory. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris each scored 18 points and reserve Dwight Howard finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Sixers improved to 42-21 on the season.

The Sixers dominated the Hawks by 44 points on Wednesday and have won each of their past three games by a combined 97 points. Shake Milton scored 13, Furkan Korkmaz had 11 and Matisse Thybulle added 10. The Hawks got leading scorer Trae Young back in the lineup after he missed four games with a sprained left ankle. Young showed no rust, scoring 32 points but the Hawks lost their third straight game. In Phoenix, Booker scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges added 18 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Utah Jazz 121-100 to move into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference. – AFP