Despite struggling for most of the night, the Celtics were able to pull out another clutch win, 102-100, this time against the Memphis Grizzlies. The win marks their sixth in a row and improves their record to a league-best 11-2.
The Celtics played far from their best basketball, committing a whopping 8 offensive fouls and finishing the game with 17 turnovers, 8 of which came from Jayson Tatum.
The Jays struggled overall — Tatum had 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, but was quiet for much of the night, while Jaylen Brown had 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, but shot just 5-16 from the field.
With Brown and Tatum struggling, Kristaps Porzingis kept the Celtics in front, finishing the night with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 (!!) blocks. He also scored the last four points of the ball game — a pair of free throws and an open dunk off of a feed from Jayson Tatum with a minute to play.
“Emotional game,” Porzingis said after the game. “These guys [the Grizzlies] played hard, and they came to win. We had to grind this one out. We didn’t have our best game.”
With 1:48 to play, Desmond Bane, who had the hot hand for large stretches, hit a three-pointer to pull the Grizzlies ahead 100-98. Those were the Grizzlies’ last points of the night. On the following Celtics possession, Porzingis caught a difficult Jrue Holiday pass and was able to convert on two free throws.
Then, Brown stole the ball from Santi Aldama, and Derrick White got tangled in a jump ball with Bane. The Celtics were able to maintain possession with just over a minute left to play, and Tatum found Porzingis for what ended up being the game-winning dunk.
The last thirty seconds were as wild as you’ll see in the NBA. After Bane missed a pull-up, Tatum had a chance to put away the game but missed his patented turnaround fadeaway. Derrick White got the huge offensive board, but Jrue Holiday missed a dunk that almost cost the Celtics the game.
Aldama, however, missed a potential game-winning three-pointer, and though the Grizzlies got another chance to tie it after securing the offensive board, Porzingis blocked Ziaire Williams’ hoist at the buzzer.
Final seconds of Celtics vs. Grizzlies— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 20, 2023
… that was stressful pic.twitter.com/LHlRyyAAks
For the Grizzlies, Bane (30 points, 8 assists) and Aldama (28 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists) led the way. Both hit big shots throughout the night, but weren’t particularly efficient, both shooting an identical 11-27 from the field.
Jaren Jackson Jr, who was an All Star for Memphis last year, finished the night with 17 points and 8 rebounds but struggled with foul trouble. Memphis finished the night with 21 second-chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds, oftentimes beating the Celtics to loose balls.
“I thought they just played harder,” Mazzulla said in his post-game interview. “I thought that was just a hard playing, tough team. I don’t think we took them lightly, but I thought they played harder for us for sure.”
Memphis was without Marcus Smart — who is out with a sprained ankle for the next month — but certainly played his scrappy, defensive-minded brand of basketball. Memphis was also without Ja Morant, who is suspended until December, Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, Luke Kennard, and several other rotation players.
“I didn’t think we deserved to win,” Mazzulla said, who said his group didn’t executive offensively nor defensively.
They’ll take the best record in the league, anyways, and wrap up their road trip tomorrow in Charlotte.