Ja Morant’s big-time dunk punctuated a third quarter keyed by the defense as the Memphis Grizzlies beat Boston 132-126 in overtime, casting aside a 10-game losing streak to the Celtics (21-22).
Oh that third quarter, the first Memphis had taken from Boston all season. The Grizzlies (20-20) outscored the Celtics 34-21 and led 94-86 headed into a final frame that ended with the teams tied at 117.
As had been the norm, the Grizzlies trailed the Celtics (65-60) at the half.
“We addressed a few things at halftime that we needed to clean up,” Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I thought our offense was obviously playing really, really well. In that first half, defensively as I mentioned a moment ago, we had some breakdowns assignment-wise; some communication lapses.
“We were able to pull the clips and show them. I thought that allowed us to go out there and take away some of the free looks that they had in the first half but weren’t able to get in that third quarter.”
Morant scored nine points and had assists in the quarter. Kyle Anderson had seven points and four assists in the third quarter, which Memphis led by nine (81-72) at one point.
Playing without stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, Boston fell behind by 10 (99-89) before rallying for the tie at the end of regulation. The Celtics were paced by Jaylon Brown with 27 points and Jeff Teague’s 26.
In overtime, Dillon Brooks seized the show for the Grizzlies, scoring five of his 24 points and giving Memphis a cushion. Morant finished with 29 points, nine assists and five rebounds
Asked whether the win showed Memphis’ growth and resilience in making tough plays, Morant said, “Yes. Once the ball goes up in the air at the beginning of the game, we’ve got to go out there and lock in, do what we have to do and just play hard.
“Try to win every loose ball, get every rebound. Just be aggressive and try to get stops. It felt like tonight us just continuing to fight and being able to lock in late in the game won us this game.”
NOTES AND NEXT:
- The Grizzlies are 2-0 in overtime games. They defeated the Nets 116-111 in Brooklyn.
- Memphis had a season-high 38 assists. Brooks and Anderson each had seven assists.
- Boston was led by Jaylon Brown with 27 points and Jeff Teague with 26 points.
- Grizz center Jonas Valanciunas racked a double-double (16 points, 19 rebounds) for the 27th time in 35 games.
- Desmond Bane went on a personal 7-0 run in the second quarter, finishing with 10 points in the frame for Memphis.
- During his pregame media availability, Jenkins wore a shirt which read, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all.” Said Jenkins: “This is way more important (than basketball). I think in our country right now, especially with what happened in Atlanta and what happened in the spring and summer (of last year), in the history of our country, now is the time. Speak up. Act. Do what’s right. Be a voice for those that don’t have a voice. That’s what it is. It’s obviously in honor of MLK Day, so we’re going to wear that with pride today.”
- The game was the last at FedExForum until March 31, when the Grizzlies play the Utah Jazz at 7 p.m. Memphis has 12 home games left in the regular season.