DETROIT — Payton Pritchard has a friend in Jaylen Brown.
Pritchard’s 19 points helped the Celtics overcome the Detroit Pistons on Saturday afternoon and Brown has been one of Pritchard’s biggest supports through his first two seasons.
“It seems like Payton is starting to find his stride,” Brown said. “Learning where his shots are, where he can be aggressive. It just seems like it’s flowing in the direction of our team. We need him to be aplaymaker and to hit shots. I’m looking forward to him continuing to get better.”
Pritchard, like teammate Aaron Nesmith, has experienced a tough second season after a strong rookie year. Brown said he has tried to encourage Pritchard during those times when he didn’t play or played poorly.
“It’s been a little tough on him; I talk to Payton all the time,” Brown said. “He’s a guy who’s talented and he wants to prove himself. He’s got a lot of the chip on his shoulder that kind of reminded me of myself. It was tough on him in stretches where he didn’t play as much. But Payton’s got a great worth ethic, so I think that supersedes it all.”
Brown said he’s convinced Pritchard will flourish now that he’s getting more minutes.
“He has a great mentality and that’s half the battle,” Brown said. “If you have the right mindset, you’ll get your opportunity and it seems like Payton is getting his opportunity now and he’s starting to make the right plays and really add to winning, and that’s most important to us.”
Second quarter blues
The second quarter was laborious because of three separate official reviews. Detroit swingman Hamidou Diallo was attempting to sprint back on defense and used second-year official Suyash Mehta to balance himself, extending his arm to push Mehta away to keep his balance. Mehta immediately called a technical foul on Diallo, who argued that he was trying to avoid running into Mehta.
After officials review, Diallo was ejected, robbing the Pistons of a key bench scorer. Lead official Rodney Mott intimated that Diallo, who had been arguing a series of non-calls prior to the incident, intentionally made contact with Mehta.
“Per rule, any contact with a game official, and in this case a shove, is deemed a hostile act and an automatic ejection,” Mott told a pool reporter. “Yes, and in this case, we used replay to confirm that a hostile act had occurred.”
Minutes later, Marcus Smart got into a scrape with rugged Detroit big man Isaiah Stewart. Smart was called for a loose-ball foul but was angry when Stewart appeared to pull him to the floor. Stewart, who was suspended earlier this season for an infamous altercation with LeBron James, where he chased James around the Little Caesars Arena floor, walked away from Smart’s pursuit.
Officials called a technical foul on Stewart for pulling Smart to the floor.
Jayson Top 100?
Watching the NBA’s top 75 players of all time being honored was a moving experience for Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who got an opportunity to take a photo with four Celtics’ greats – Robert Parish, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kevin McHale.
Tatum, 23, was too young in his career to even draw consideration for the Top 75, but his career will be long over by the time the top 100 is announced in 2047, and Tatum considered that a goal to be immortalized.
“Twenty-five years from now, obviously watching that, you only but imagine yourself being up there one day,” Tatum said. “I have a long way to go but obviously it’s a dream of mine. It’s something I couldn’t even put into words if I accomplished that.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said the All-Star experience, especially fraternizing with some of the all-time great players, is meaningful for Tatum.
“It’s huge for guys in his position,” Udoka said. “Young guys coming up, aspiring to be that, to see the guys within the organization that have had that success but also just being around greatness in general. Any time you’re at an All-Star Game, you’re amongst the elite in the game but when you take it to that level, the top 75 I’m sure he’s rubbing shoulders and sharing stories with many of the greats. It’s good for him to be around them and them to recognize who he is and what he is doing.”
Tatum has formed bonds with all-time great players such as Pierce, Garnett, and Allen Iverson.
“(Allen Iverson) and those guys talk to him all the time,” Udoka said. “It instills confidence in him and what he’s doing and the direction he’s headed, so it’s all good for him, a young player to be around that all the time.”