Keys to the Game: Celtics 120, Grizzlies 107

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Not many teams have been able to take down the Memphis Grizzlies since late November. Only seven, to be exact.

Well, as many learned Thursday night, not many teams are as great as the Boston Celtics.

The streaking Celtics reigned supreme in front of a national audience by controlling the Grizzlies from start to finish en route to a 120-107 victory over Memphis. Boston led for the final 45:49 of the game and put the Grizzlies away with a knockout punch early in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics responded to Memphis pulling within seven by rattling off a 13-3 run in less than three minutes of action. That run provided them with a commanding 101-84 lead, and their advantage never dropped below nine from that point on.

The key to the run, as always, was defense. But what also stood out during this stretch was Boston’s passing.

The Celtics assisted on all six baskets during the run, including four which were scored inside the paint. Four Celtics accounted for the six assists, led by two from Al Horford.

Jayson Tatum was the main scorer for Boston during the run, and on the night overall. He accounted for eight of the 13 points during the spurt en route to 37 points overall.

Key Player

The Celtics have a secret weapon that some may have forgotten about. His name is Al Horford.

Horford nearly set a new season high for playing time Thursday night by logging 39 minutes and 35 seconds of action against Memphis. Simply put, he was just too good for Ime Udoka to take him out, and that notion is only strengthened by the fact that Horford finished with the game’s top plus/minus rating at plus-18.

The 15-year vet logged his 12th double-double of the season, and quite possibly his top overall performance of the season. He poured in 21 points to go along with a game-high 15 rebounds, as well as five assists and two blocked shots on the night. He shot 50 percent both from the field (8-for-16) and from long distance (4-for-8).

The impressive nature of the big man’s rebound total was emphasized by the fact that no Grizzlies player logged more than eight rebounds on the night. That means Horford grabbed nearly double the amount of any individual player on the opposing team.

Forget about Horford if you dare, opponents. As he proved Thursday night, he’s still lurking in the background and ready to take over games when the Celtics need him to do so.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston scored 73 points during the second half alone.
  • Ja Morant (38) scored one more point than Jayson Tatum (37), but needed four more shot attempts to do so (29 to 25).
  • Boston shot 51.7 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from long range as a team.
  • The Celtics dished out 33 assists, marking their second-highest total of the season (34 on 10/20/21 vs. NYK.
  • Memphis committed only seven turnovers.
  • Al Horford stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, a game-high 15 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
  • Robert Williams also tallied a double-double with 12 rebounds and 10 points, to go along with three assists, three blocked shots and one steal.
  • Marcus Smart tied his career high with 12 assists while also scoring 18 points.
  • Boston led for the final 45-plus minutes.
  • Grant Williams shot a perfect 3-for-3 from long distance.
  • Memphis attempted 10 more shots than Boston (99-89) but made four fewer (46-42).

Quote of the Night

Marcus Smart on Boston's performance as a team