BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown scored 41 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 137-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
The Celtics were without star forward and leading scorer Jayson Tatum, who was sidelined with a left hip contusion. But Boston still moved to 1½ games behind Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference’s best record with its seventh victory in nine games.
“When you get the opportunity to be the guy that everybody’s kind of leaning on, it’s a privilege, it’s an honor,” Brown said. “I don’t take those moments for granted. Every night, I strap my shoes up and I get my guys ready to go.”
Malcolm Brogdon added 20 points and nine assists for Boston, and Derrick White had 19 points with eight rebounds.
Zach Collins scored 21 points with seven rebounds for San Antonio, which was without 2022 ninth-overall draft pick Jeremy Sochan (sore right knee) for the fourth time in five games. Keldon Johnson, who scored 30 in a loss Friday at Washington, was also out.
“We played well for about a quarter, but after that I thought we just gave in,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I thought we embarrassed ourselves by giving in the way we did. But the Celtics had a lot to do with that.”
Malaki Branham added 15 points and Sandro Mamukelashvili 13 for the Spurs, who lost all four games of their road trip.
Brown got hit in the face late in the opening quarter and a mask he’s wearing for a facial fracture got pushed down. He was visibly upset, kept whipping his face with his right hand and showing referee Lauren Holtkamp. As he was arguing, his teammates passed the ball back to him and he missed an open 3-pointer.
But that seemed to fire him up. He scored 13 of his 26 first-half points after that, helping Boston turn an eight-point deficit to a 68-58 halftime lead.
“I took a couple of hits to the face,” he said. “One of them made my nose bleed, so I got after the refs a little bit. It is what it is.”
Brown added 10 more points in the third, using an array of twisting drives and mid-range jumpers as Boston opened a 96-77 lead after three.
“I think he’s just making the right read,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said of Brown’s variety of shots. “Because he’s worked at his shot selection, he’s worked at his attack and he’s worked at getting points in transition, the defense opens up for him.”
White made the game’s next three baskets — all 3s — to move the Celtics ahead 107-77.
Brown was taken out with 6:34 to play and got a standing ovation. He waved to the crowd.
Marcus Smart picked up a technical early in the third and then referee Jason Goldenberg gave him one at the opposite corner from Boston’s bench, throwing him out late in the quarter. Smart smiled and gestured with arms that he didn’t do anything as he walked off toward the locker room. He had 13 points.
Popovich, 74, is 40 years older than Mazzulla.
Former Celtics star and Hall of Famer Paul Pierce sat courtside wearing a sweatshirt with his nickname “The Truth” and old number “34” on the front. When they showed him on the video board, he waved, looked up and snapped a picture of himself.
Spurs: Collins had missed two of the last three games with a biceps injury.
Celtics: Missed 14 of their initial 17 on 3-point attempts. … Brown was whistled for a flagrant 1 foul in the second quarter.
Spurs: Host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.