MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Marc Gasol scored 21 points in the third quarter Saturday night, including four 3-pointers that were particularly painful because they were so open.

“He only made four. It felt like 15,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said of the Memphis center’s bombs. “I looked at the stat sheet and was like, ‘That can’t be right.’ But it felt like a lot more.”

Gasol’s sudden long-distance eruption – he had 30 points overall – certainly ignited something for an opponent that had been called out by its coach a night earlier for poor effort.

And thanks to one of their finest defensive stretches of the season, the Celtics opened the fourth quarter with a game-turning 16-0 run as Memphis didn’t score again until 6:25 was left in the game.

This allowed the Celtics to squeak out a 102-93 win over the Grizzlies that was far more contentious than it might look.

The Celtics survived Gasol and did their own scoring by committee, with seven players finishing in double figures, including 20 from Kyrie Irving and 19 from rookie Jayson Tatum.

First they had to adjust.

“We had to change,” Stevens said of his coverage. “Two of them where we were lost. One of them was off the jump ball and another one was off of a broken play. For the most part, our pick-and-roll coverages were pretty good and then when we changed them they were really good. So that happens. Good players make great plays.”

And the Celtics, despite blowing what at one point was an early 21-point lead, won their 25th game. Stevens needed an entire season to win that many in his first year as Celtics coach.

“We had to make adjustments,” said Al Horford. “We tried to communicate out there and (Gasol) was still getting the open looks. We made the adjustments and that took care of that. He’s a great player, but a lot of that had to do with our inability to make the adjustments and communicate. He was hitting the shots, he’s an all-star.”

But thus challenged, the Celtics held Memphis scoreless for the first 5:35 of the fourth.

“It was great,” said Horford. “We came out with a lot of good energy, then they made their run, we handled it, they made another run in the third and we stayed composed, and just kept with it.”

The Celtics were in desperate need not only of a defensive revival, but of Horford’s two post-ups at the start of the fourth, the second for a 75-73 lead. This time the Celtics kicked out with their strongest dose of offense since the first quarter. Terry Rozier followed up Horford’s two hoops with a 3-pointer and a drive.

The 16-0 run, capped by Daniel Theis’ corner trey – new plastic mask and all – was good for an 87-73 lead with 7:11 left.

The Celtics had just turned in one of their finest defensive sequences of the season – this time Gasol missed from downtown – and finished off each stop.

Memphis finally regrouped behind Tyreke Evans, its second-quarter hero, and cut the Celtics lead to 89-81 with 5:17 left.

But Aron Baynes tipped in a Tatum miss, and then answered a Dillon Brooks 3-pointer with a three-point play.

Brooks scored again, only for Irving to hit an up-top trey for a 97-86 edge.

Memphis answered with five straight points, including a Mario Chalmers trey, but thanks to a Tatum offensive board in the midst of a three-shot possession, Horford split the lane with a floater for a 99-91 Celtics lead, sending the night into free throws.

“Just consistent energy,” said Irving. “Just sticking to our game plan and executing that.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.