Boston star Isaiah Thomas showcased more than his scoring talents on Tuesday, adding a career-high 15 assists to go with 29 points in the Celtics 115-104 NBA victory over the Utah Jazz.
Thomas, who scored 52 points without an assist in the Celtics’ victory over the Miami Heat on Friday, mixed things up against the Jazz and his versatility helped Boston notch a third straight home win for the first time this season.
Thomas said he didn’t make a conscious effort to up his assists. And he certainly didn’t take any flak from his teammates after failing to deliver one decisive pass to another scorer against Miami.
“If they would’ve said something, then I would’ve really tried to not score and get assists,” he said. “But after the last game I was upset and they were like, ‘You scored 52, who cares about your assists!’
“Tonight I didn’t really emphasise passing like that. It’s just that’s what the defense was giving me,” Thomas said.
Amid all that passing Thomas had just one turnover.
“He did it in all kinds of ways,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “The best plays that he made and the most impactful were when he got to the rim and he’d go up and find people.
“He was finding people everywhere.”
The Jazz’s Joe Johnson, a former Celtics, said the problems posed by Thomas aren’t in proportion with his relatively diminutive 5-foot-9-inch (1.75m) frame.
“He plays big,” Johnson said. “Despite his size. He’s tough to guard, tough to contain. He makes tough shots.” Boston pummelled the Jazz from the perimeter, making 17 of 31 three-point attempts.
They are just the 12th team to hit 17 three-pointers in back-to-back games, and the barrage came against a Jazz team that was leading the league in three-point and overall defense.
“I know they’re a good defensive team, so when I kind of attacked they showed more than one guy and my job was to just get the ball to the open guy and I tried to do that tonight,” said Thomas.