Celtics

Jayson Tatum was spectacular, but Marcus Smart could have been even better.

Grizzlies defender Ja Morant takes the ball in the second half. AP

The Celtics held back the Grizzlies on an episode in Monday’s battle between offensive-minded teams with a victory of 109-106.

Here are the take-away kicks as the Celtics improved to 7-3 with their third consecutive win.

1. Jayson Tatum was spectacular, especially in the second quarter when the Celtics beat Grizzlies 37-20 to 20-0. Tatum scored 19 points out of his 39 points during this period, frequently turning to bark at the crooks sitting outside at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Last season, Tatum gave nine or more free-kicks just 13 times in the regular season, and more than 15 free kicks only once on March 6 during his 54-point all-time against Kevin Durant and the Nets. On Monday, he scored 12 out of 16 on the lane after attempting 20 in his 36-point att*ck against the Bulls. In the 2022-23 season, he scored nine free throws four times in 10 games.

The new evolution of Tatum is really fun to watch. Spins when there is no ball to make kicks and dunks easy. These easy shots propel a confident, aggressive ride to get to the free-throw line. It still destroys opponents in the middle pillar and bury threes, but stronger shots are more complementary and a little more in control.

Meanwhile, on defense, Tatum blocked two shots for the fifth time this season – both against Ja Morant. Defensively, it remains one of the best 1v1 team options when they need a stop for a stretch.

2. Tatum also gave Celtics fans a heart att*ck in the fourth quarter when he got caught in Morant and fell holding his knee. Tatum stayed on the ground for an irritating minute, and when he got up, he staggered to the free-throw line and missed both attempts. However, he stayed in the game and was involved in a few defensive balls before taking a couple of free kicks in the last seconds. After the game, he was all smiles embracing Morant.

“He’s fine,” Joe Mazzulla he told reporters After game.

3. Marcus Smart might have had an even better game than Tatum. For the second night in a row, Smart was like a maestro as a distributor – he gave out 12 assists. He now has 23 assists and two losses in the last two games.

In the first quarter, Smart was also key as a goalscorer, keeping the Celtics in touch as the Grizzlies took the lead 34-28. Smart scored 10 of his 15 points and made four assists – leaving him responsible for 18 Celtics points during that period, including the first 16 points of the game.

Smart also gave as inspiration the rage from the court.

“It gave me a little more motivation to come here and play the best basketball I can,” said Smart Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston after the game. “I was just taking the pictures they gave me and I was just looking at the passes they were giving me and looking for my teammates.”

In the middle of the fourth quarter, Smart fired a left-wing circus shot that managed to push the Celtics into eight. He watched wisely on his left hand and informed him he was “bad motherf*cker.”

“Everyone on the team will tell you that they prefer me to go right than left because my left hand is for some reason the same [good] I’m right, ”said Smart NBC Sports Boston. “So just keep working on it and put it to the test.”

4. Jaylen Brown really fought for three quarters, scoring only 6 to 17 with five losses before the fourth quarter and started the last third with a loss as well.

But Brown calmed down and made a couple of difficult layups as well as two big free kicks. The Celtics need him to shoot better and take better care of the ball, but he has managed to play a part in saving the victory.

5. Grant Williams started in Derrick White’s spot and had one of the weirder lines of stats you’ll encounter this season. He finished 0-0 off the court but was +6 as a starter and gave two key free kicks in the last minute that helped the Celtics turn away from a late-game fall. In the final minutes, he teamed up with Al Horford to help slow Morant down with bigger defenders after star Grizzlies brought the team off the edge in the third quarter.

A reporter asked Mazzulla after the game if Williams had the most influential zero-spot he could remember.

“Yes,” Mazzulla said, pausing for effect. – No, he was playing well. They all played well. We’ve said it in other games, I appreciate the humility of our bench, I appreciate the humility of our boys but tonight I felt it was needed [Williams to start]and it felt like he was delivering. “

6. Morant was just phenomenal – even better than his 30-point performance with nine assists suggested. The Grizzlies won the third quarter 31-19 after the Morant explosion, which was underlined by such play.

Morant is also shooting a better percentage of the 3-point range this season – 45.6 percent after losing 5 out of 12 on Monday. If he becomes a consistent deep scorer, the league will have its hands full.

With players like Tatum and Morant taking control of the spotlight, the NBA is in good hands.

7. The entire NBA will take Tuesday off as a reminder to vote in the mid-term elections. The Celtics will play against the Pistons at TD Garden on Wednesday – the first of two games against Detroit in the next five days.

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