MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It took four quarters and one overtime period for the Memphis Grizzlies (20-20) to take down a depleted Boston Celtics (21-22) team with a final score of 132-126.
Jaylen Brown’s 27 point, nine rebound and five assist performance wasn’t enough to hold off the Grizzlies’ charge led by Ja Morant and Dillion Brooks who finished with 29 and 24 points, respectively.
“Us continuing to fight and being able to lock in late in the game, won us the game,” said Morant.
The Celtics traded blows with the Grizzlies throughout the first half and went into the locker room up 65-60. A lackluster third quarter where they were outscored 34-21 dug them a hole to climb out of in the fourth quarter.
Despite the Grizzlies leading by nine late in the final quarter, the Celtics were able to tie the game late at 117 a piece off of a lob from Marcus Smart to Daniel Theis with seven seconds left. Morant then front-rimmed a game-winning step back three pointer over Marcus Smart, sending the game to overtime.
The Celtics were outscored 15-9 in the overtime period on their way to another clutch-time loss, which has been a trend for Boston this season.
“We had this one, like sh*t, we had it,” said a frustrated Brown after the game. “It’s definitely one we want back. We played hard to get back into the game, there’s still a lot of stuff we have to clean up.”
Brown’s 29-point total was preceded by a 34-point game against the Magic on Sunday where he drained a career-high 10 three pointers.
Jayson Tatum was a late scratch after showing up to the pregame shoot-around with dizziness. The Celtics in turn decided to play it safe and have him sit out. Kemba Walker was nursing the same knee injury that has plagued him throughout the season. Walker and Tatum are two of Boston’s top-three scorers as well as key defensive starters.
Jeff Teague and Semi Ojeleye got starts in place of Tatum and Walker. Teague had a season-high 26 points on 10-12 shooting from the field.
“When you’re missing guys like Tatum and Kemba, you have to win with better defense,” said Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens. “We haven’t gotten there yet.”
The Celtics lost this game despite finishing with a higher field-goal percentage and three-point percentage than the Grizzlies, but the difference in the contest came from the rebound battle, which Memphis won 54 to 43.
Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas was a major thorn in the Celtic’s side, hauling in 19 rebounds himself with seven of those being on the offensive end.
“[Valanciunas] destroyed us. Even though he ended with 16 points, it felt a lot bigger than that,” said Stevens. “It felt like he was getting whatever he wanted off the glass.”
The Celtics have lost six-straight games on the second night of a back-to-back this season, per ESPN Stats and Info.
Despite playing a back-to-back and missing key starters like Tatum and Walker, Brad Stevens doesn’t believe that is a valid excuse for their performance.
“The formula doesn’t change just because you played yesterday,” said Stevens. “You have the ability for guys that are fresh to impact the game.”
Even in losing, Stevens thinks that the Celtics are showing signs of life.
“We can build off the last two nights. We have to,” said Stevens.
The Celtics look to get back on track when they travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks for game two of their four-game road trip.