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Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum carry Boston Celtics past Memphis Grizzlies

By
Pete Wickham, The Sports Xchange
Boston Celtics Twitter
Boston Celtics Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A great first quarter and a solid burst to start the fourth kept the Boston Celtics from back-to-back embarrassments, coming away with a 102-93 victory over the struggling, but still scrappy, Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at FedEx Forum.

Al Horford and Terry Rozier sparked a 16-0 run at the start of the fourth as the Celtics erased a 73-71 Memphis lead built largely on a third-quarter explosion from Marc Gasol, who had 21 of his game-high 30 points during the stretch.

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Kyrie Irving led Boston with 20 points, rookie Jason Tatum had 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Horford had 15 points and seven boards, Aron Baynes added 13 points and six rebounds while Marcus Smart scored 11 and Rozier added 10 points off the bench.

Tyreke Evans, a game-time decision with a sore hip, added 25 to the Memphis effort.

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The Celtics, after an embarrassing 12-point home loss to Utah the night before, came out strong against the free-falling Grizzlies in the first quarter, building a 31-12 lead thanks to balanced scoring and stifling defense, as Memphis hit just 4-of-18 shots from the field.

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Then Boston tried to give its starters an extended second-quarter break, and a Grizzlies' second unit that included two-way contract guard Kobi Simmons started getting a little room and making some shots.

Evans went scoreless to start the game, but had 15 second-quarter points, including three 3-pointers and Dillon Brooks chipped in another three as Memphis closed to within five points, 42-37.

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The Celtics upped the lead to eight before the break, 48-40. But Gasol, who had just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting in the half, would hit eight of his next 10 shots, four from distance, including the 26-footer that put the Grizzlies on top, 73-71, going into the final 12 minutes.

NOTES: The Grizzlies were without PG Mike Conley (Achilles), F-C Brandan Wright (groin), G-F Wayne Selden (quad) and F Chandler Parsons (rest). Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said there's still no timetable on Conley, but added he expects to get a couple of his missing players back sometime during the coming week. ... Boston rookie F Daniel Theis, who suffered a broken nose in Friday's loss to Utah, gave it a go Saturday and wound up with five points. ... F Marcus Morris, who has missed four games with a sore left knee, said Friday he is hoping to be back on the floor by the Celtics' Christmas Day game with Washington.

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