Celtics beat New York, 104-102, on late Tatum jumper

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Jayson Tatum’s move into Friday night’s game-winner was familiar enough to his former teammate.

“Step to the right, pull,” Marcus Morris said of Tatum’s jumper over RJ Barrett from 21 feet down the right baseline with 1.3 seconds left.

“Good shot, man. He’s a good player,” said Morris. “Brad drew up a great play, he made it. It was good to see him get his first one. I wish it could have been somebody else. But hey, it’s the NBA.”

Tatum later said he was a freshman at Duke the last time he hit a game-winner, against Virginia  – an almost absurd thought, considering what the Celtics forward has already accomplished in the NBA. But that shot – deliberate, smooth, pure – put a dramatic end to the Celtics’ 104-102 win over New York.

It was their fourth straight win, this time without Jaylen Brown (illness), Enes Kanter (knee) and Robert Williams (hip). It was also their second win over the Knicks in six days. And Morris, for the life of him, couldn’t have done more to try and reverse the result.

The fourth quarter had skipped through nine lead changes, with the Celtics coming out of the scrum with a 95-91 lead on Kemba Walker’s third 3-pointer of the night with 3:31 left.

Morris had just hit a bomb from the left corner 24 seconds earlier, and over the last 3:55 would score 13 points on three treys and four free throws, also including a miss from the line that would have pulled the Knicks within a basket.

In a way that one had to hurt, considering that Morris completed his 29-point performance with a game-tying 3-pointer that tied the game at 102-102 with 4.7 seconds left. It gave Tatum just enough time to make things right.

“That was great. Everybody knows we have a great relationship,” Tatum said of his bond with Morris. “He’s like a big brother to me. I kind of wished that I would have hit that shot over him.”

Perhaps Morris wouldn’t have been as complimentary if that had happened.

“He’s more patient, more calm, way more aggressive,” Morris said of the change he has seen in the player he calls a “little brother.”

“I told him when I was here, there’s only two people that can guard him in the league and I’m one of them. The other one is my brother,” Morris said of his twin, Detroit’s Markieff. “So I stand on that. The kid’s nice. I’ve been saying it since he got here. So I’m not surprised.

“Last time I was in the Garden, I locked him in down,” Morris said of Tatum’s 15-point, 5-for-17 performance in Madison Square Garden last Saturday. “This time, I locked him down. So, like I said man, that’s my little brother and I’m excited to see how his career pans out.”

“Locked down” being a relative term. Tatum scored 24 points, including 4-for-8 3-point shooting. That last shot made another big night from Kemba Walker stand up, as the newest Celtics star put his third straight 32-plus scoring performance on the board, this time with 33 points on, among other things, 14-for-14 free throw shooting.

Walker has shot 28-for-29 from the line in his last two games, and last night hit all four of his free throws in the last 2:14, including two for the lead prior to Morris’ game-tying trey.

And Gordon Hayward was once again the glue, this time with 13 points, three 3-pointers, four assists and a much-needed nine rebounds against the bigger Knicks.

“It’s been great. He’s making great strides obviously toward looking like his old self,” Tatum said of his playmaking teammate. “Obviously everybody feels like they can play better. But he’s been playing really well. It’s only been five games. He’s going to continue to get better. For us, just playing off each other, making the right reads, being able to play-make, rebound and just make the right play. He always makes the right read in the pick and roll and I want to try to learn from him.”

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