BOSTON — In their two seasons together as teammates, veteran forward Marcus Morris Sr. and budding young superstar Jayson Tatum formed a mentor-mentee relationship that led both to become good friends and the Celtics to the precipice of championship glory two seasons ago. While the partnership broke up with Morris’s departure to the Big Apple in free agency, the young prodigy had the opportunity to show off to the old pro one new captivating trick back at their old stomping grounds.
Tatum buried a turnaround jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining – just moments after Morris Sr. tied the score one possession earlier – to lift the Celtics to a 104-102 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night, Boston’s fourth consecutive victory.
New Celtics acquisition Kemba Walker scored 33 points, 23 in the second half, in a see-saw affair that saw 24 lead changes and 10 ties.
The coup de grace came from Tatum with the game tied at 102, as he caught the inbounds pass from halfcourt on the right corner before shaking himself free from the defense of rookie Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett and nailing a 20-foot baseline jumper to give Boston the lead for good.
As gratifying of a feeling hitting a buzzer-beating shot is while playing in front of the home fans, Tatum’s game-winner could have been even sweeter of one of the other Knicks on the floor drew the defensive assignment on Tatum at the end of the game.
“I kind of wish that I took that shot over [Morris], but we won so I’m happy,” Tatum said.
Unlike their matchup last Saturday, one in which Boston won by 23 points, the teams traded big shots and momentum-shifting plays. New York had a glorious chance to force overtime after Morris received a pass from Kevin Knox, who had just grabbed an offensive rebounds from a short runner by Barrett, and drained a three-pointer from the left wing with 4.7 seconds remaining to tie the score at 102.
“We stayed locked in all game long,” said Barrett, who had 15 points and seven rebounds. “The whole fourth quarter we were fighting, and that’s the identity of our team. We did that tonight.”
Morris led all Knicks scorers with 29 points in his return to Boston, one where he was able to get the better of Tatum on a couple of plays on the offensive end, yet not enough for New York to come away with the victory.
“We’ve been talking about this moment for a while, and you know I told him when I come back here, if I do, we going to go at it,” Morris said of a matchup with Tatum as opponents. “He’s going be a great player in this league for a while, and I’m happy to be a part of his career so far.”
Along with his 33 points, Walker had six rebounds and five assists, becoming the first Celtic player to record at least 30 points, six rebounds and four assists in three consecutive games since Paul Pierce in 2002.