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Jayson Tatum joins Larry Bird in Celtics record books as he continues his torrid stretch

OSTON -- This is the time of the season when Jayson Tatum really starts to take off. The Celtics' star continued his torrid stretch Tuesday night in a win over the Nets in Brooklyn, garnering MVP chants from fans on the road and joining Larry Bird in the Boston record books.

Tatum had that look in his eyes throughout a 41-point outburst against the Nets, leading Boston to a 118-110 victory and the team's 42nd win of the season. He dropped 31 of those points in the first half, as he did just about anything and everything he wanted against the Nets defense.

Tatum started the game 6-for-9 in the first quarter, which included a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Late in the quarter, he hit his third straight three in front of the Boston bench and was fouled by former teammate Dennis Schroder in the process. He blew a kiss to the crowd before completing the four-point play to give him 16 points, a new season-high for Tatum in the opening frame. That's when the "MVP" chants began to echo inside the Barclays Center.

Tatum followed that up with a 15-point second quarter, giving Boston a 72-57 edge at the break. He scored just 10 points in the second half but pulled down eight of his 14 rebounds, including four in the fourth quarter as Boston held off a pesky Brooklyn squad. Tuesday night was Tatum's 20th double-double of the season, and he stuffed the rest of the stat sheet with five assists, two steals, and a key block on Cam Thomas late in the game.

Tatum has now scored 40 or more points 25 times over his career, trailing only Larry Bird and his Celtics record of 47 such games. The young Celtics star did surpass the Hall of Famer in one category Tuesday night: Tatum now has 128 games of 30 or more points over the first seven seasons of his career, passing Bird's previous record of 127.

And for good measure, Tuesday night was Tatum's 11th straight game of at least 20 points and seven rebounds, which is the fourth-longest streak in Boston history behind only Bird (15), Kevin McHale (14), and John Havlicek (12).

"It's always an honor to be mentioned with some of the greatest players of all time," Tatum told reporters after the win. "When I hear it, obviously, it gives me chills. It makes me feel good. I'm doing something right, I guess."

Going bananas in the second half of a season is nothing new for Tatum, though it looks like he's about to elevate his game to another level. He's been on an absolute tear over the last two weeks, averaging 29.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists -- leading Boston in all three categories -- to go with 1.1 blocks and a steal over the last seven games. He's pretty much flirted with a triple-double in each of the last five games, averaging 31.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists over Boston's current win streak. 

The only thing that will slow Tatum down now is the All-Star Break, which begins after Wednesday night's home game against the Nets. But even then, Tatum will go off and do his thing in Indiana as he looks to claim a second-straight All-Star MVP award. 

Then the focus will be back to hitting an even higher level and leading the Celtics to a championship. Tatum is playing some of the best ball of his career right now, which should set up another extraordinary second half for Boston's star. 

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