Jae Crowder speaks with Abby Chin prior to the Green & White Scrimmage, saying the team’s defensive capabilities have been showing through in training camp
BOSTON – Marcus Morris has never been one to lack for confidence, regardless of time or score.
So with the game on the line, Morris … hesitated?
Uh, not exactly.
It was a pump fake to create just enough space to launch what would become a game-winning 3-pointer that lifted Boston to an improbable 100-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Morris was asked about his uh, hesitation before draining the first game-winner of his NBA career.
“Hesitation? I don’t even know how to spell that (bleep),” quipped Morris.
Morris arrived in Boston as a two-way talent via trade from Detroit, whose strength was more at the defensive end of the floor.
But with Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) both out, Morris has emerged as one of the team’s primary scoring options.
“He’s another huge part of our team moving forward,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “If you’re counting on 13 or 14 (points) from him, now we’re counting on 16 or 18.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 100-99 win over Oklahoma City.
Marcus Morris: Even before he drained the game-winning basket, Morris was having a good night for the Celtics. He finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting to go with four rebounds and one steal.
Jayson Tatum: He has looked to score more now with key players sidelined, and the Celtics will be better for this long-term. Tatum had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Boston. And being 20 years and 17 days old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to have a game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, bettering the previous record set by Antoine Walker (20 years and 165 days old on Jan. 24, 1997.
Russell Westbrook: A normal night for Russell Westbrook is a career game-like performance for most NBA players. He led the Thunder with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Paul George: Boston had problems limiting Paul George most of the game. For the second time in as many games this season against Boston, George tallied a double-double. He had 24 points on 9-for-19 shooting along with a game-high 13 rebounds.
Greg Monroe: On those stretches when the Celtics are thirsty for points, he has been the ultimate thirst-quencher off the bench. He led all reserves on Tuesday with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.
Shane Larkin: He continues to make the most of his increased role with Kyrie Irving out. Larkin had 13 points off the bench on 5-for-9 shooting with four rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony: He had 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting, but Melo’s impact was minimal at best. What he will be remembered for from this game was the two free throw misses with 8.4 seconds and the Thunder up two points, that set up the Celtics’ Marcus Morris for his game-winning 3-pointer.
Al Horford: This was yet another stinker in terms of shooting the ball, for Al Horford. Not only did he miss shots that he knows he should have knocked down, but many came at a time when the Celtics needed a big shot to get some semblance of control. Usually it’s Horford whose play lifts Boston to victory. But on this night, it was his teammates who bailed him out because if Boston lost this game you can bet there would have been plenty of eyes that would gloss past his seven assists and six rebounds, and instead lock on to his five points (on 2-for-9 shooting) and four turnovers.
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BOSTON – Kyrie Irving was decked out in all black, as was Jaylen Brown.
The look was fitting for the somber mood many Celtics fans are in right now with Irving’s sore left knee being worse than initially thought.
These are not the best of times for the Celtics as they try and cope with yet another rash of injuries.
The Celtics may not be where they want to be fit-wise.
But that has nothing to do with their fight which was once again alive and well.
And Boston’s gritty effort was rewarded with a 100-99 win over Oklahoma City.
Marcus Morris drained the go-ahead basket, a 3-pointer, with 1.2 seconds to play.
Following an Oklahoma City time-out, Russell Westbrook’s desperation heave barely grazed the rim as time expired.
Boston was indeed on the comeback trail most of the fourth quarter.
With the Celtics trailing 95-92, Westbrook missed a 3-pointer that was rebounded by Jayson Tatum.
However, Greg Monroe was called for a foul against Steven Adams that sent the 7-footer to the free throw line with less than a minute to play.
Adams, who had 14 points and seven rebounds made both free throws.
But as we’ve seen with this team, they play until the final buzzer.
After a 3-pointer by Terry Rozier made it a 99-97 game, Oklahoma City’s Carmelo Anthony missed a pair of free throws, leading to a Celtics time-out with 7.7 seconds to play which set up Morris’ game-winning basket.
Boston opened the third quarter with a 12-4 lead capped off by a Tatum 3-pointer to lead 57-52.
But once again the Thunder rallied back and went into the fourth quarter ahead, but not nearly as comfortable as they would have liked after Boston’s Shane Larkin made a 3-pointer at the buzzer that cut the Thunder’s lead to 75-73 after three quarters of play.
The game being so close down the stretch was indicative of how it began.
Boston and its patchwork lineup stayed within striking distance in the first quarter, but found themselves on the short end of a 13-3 run near the end of the first quarter which ended with the Thunder leading 26-18.
The Celtics spent most of the second quarter on the comeback trail, but eventually blazed a trail of prosperity that allowed them to go on an 8-0 run fueled by Rozier that put the Celtics ahead 41-36.
But the Thunder, winners of six in a row coming into tonight’s game, bounced back with back-to-back baskets in a matter of seconds to make it a one-point game.
Oklahoma City went on to score eight of the last 12 points to lead 48-45 at the half.
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