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Celtics score 73 2nd half points to beat Grizzlies 120-107

Despite 38 points from Ja Morant, Boston never let Memphis back in the game

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Jayson Tatum scored 37 points on his 24th birthday while Al Horford added 21 points and 15 rebounds as the Celtics beat the Grizzlies by 13 points. Boston had 33 assists, and after 11 first-half turnovers, they only had three in the second half.

Ja Morant posted videogame numbers the previous two games, scoring 46 on Saturday in Chicago and 52 on Monday against San Antonio. But tonight, he missed his first six attempts and Boston held him to 3/14 in the first half. Memphis only shot 27 percent in the first quarter but scored 10 points off six Celtic turnovers. Jaren Jackson scored seven early points and had this outstanding block on Jayson Tatum:

The Celtics led 26-20 after 12 minutes. Al Horford had six points and six rebounds while Robert Williams grabbed seven rebounds and two blocks – it was a good opportunity to pad their rebounding stats. In his second start of the season, Aaron Neismith went down with an ankle sprain just five minutes into the game.

After Grant Williams hit his third three off a clever behind-the-back pass from Marcus Smart, Al Horford swished a 15-foot jumper and the Celtics led 43-34 at the 3:45 mark. But the Grizzlies proceeded to go on a 11-2 run highlighted by this alley oop from Morant:

It doesn’t quite compare to the earth-shattering dunk on Jacob Poeltl, but it was exciting nonetheless. The Celtics led 47-45 going into halftime. They held Memphis to 4/21 from deep but allowed 28 points in the paint. Tatum was the only Boston player to reach double figures during the physical first half.

The Celtics lived up to their billing as the NBA’s best 3rd quarter team. Marcus Smart played like a man possessed, hitting two threes to open the half, driving to the paint to find a cutting Tatum, and assisting on a Horford three to give Boston a 70-55 lead at the six-minute mark. He had 8 points and 4 assists in the quarter, as the Celtics scored 36 points on 11 assists. Morant woke up, scoring 16 in the quarter, and Boston led 83-72 going into the final frame.

Each time the Grizzlies cut it to single digits, the Celtics responded. On this play, Horford channeled his inner Magic Johnson, leading the fastbreak and finding Tatum on an alley oop.

Tatum scored 14 points in the first six-and-a-half minutes as Boston extended its lead to 17. After former Celtic draft pick Desmond Bane and Kyle Anderson hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to nine, Tatum responded again with an offensive rebound putback. Morant was relentless in keeping Memphis in the game and finished with 38 points, but Smart and Tatum hit back-to-back threes at the two minute mark to put the game out of reach.

The physical first half turned into a high scoring second half as Boston won the game 120-107. This much anticipated matchup was flexed into TNT in place of the previously scheduled Nets-Heat game. Boston has a few days off before they host the Nets this Sunday at 1:00.

For more postgame coverage of the Celtics gritty win, tune into the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A. Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Tatum’s big birthday night.