There was no room for error. After finding out they would be playing without their scorer, Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics put together one last run in the fourth quarter and beat the Memphis Grizzlies 95-92, last night at TD Garden.
Avery Bradley, who returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained elbow, scored a team-high 17 points. His biggest shot of the night was a jump shot over Marc Gasol with 7.9 seconds left that sealed the win.
Kelly Olynyk had his best game since returning from his injury, he finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds. And Jae Crowder chipped in 16 points off the bench. Five Celtics players finished in double-digits.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens surprised everyone at TD Garden when he drew up an unexpected alley-oop play after he called a timeout with 51 seconds left. Evan Turner lobbed the ball perfectly to Marcus Smart. Smart not only executed the play but drew a foul on Memphis' Courtney Lee. It was a momentum changing three-point play that put the Celtics up 91-90.
The Grizzlies intentionally fouled Tyler Zeller after they were unable to score on the other end. Former Celtic Jeff Green cut the Celtics' lead to one after his made layup, which set up Bradley's big shot to put the C's up by three. Mike Conley missed a desperate three-pointer in the final seconds.
Crowder, Olynyk, Smart and Bradley put together a 12-6 run at the end of the quarter and beat a championship contending team.
"It shows that we're making strides and we're continuing to be a better team," Bradley said. "Brad is getting us all together, having us believe in one another. We're like a family out here. We're a lot closer than we were and it shows on the court."Conley scored a game-high 20 points and old friend Tony Allen added 16 for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph had a relatively quiet game, he went 4-for-9 for 14 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. And Marc Gasol also went 4-for-9 but only scored 11 points.
"Man, they don't quit," Conley said about the Celtics. "They're a team that fights. They're going to play through every possession."The Grizzlies did what they do best: defend. But so did the Celtics. At halftime, the game was tied at 37, a telling sign of how good the Celtics can be at playing defense. Memphis' frontcourt went 0-for-4 after the first quarter and didn't pick up their offense until the second half. However, the Grizzlies' biggest lead of the night was a measly four point advantage. The C's blew an eight-point lead but never fell far behind.
The Celtics have a chance to seek revenge against the Orlando Magic on Friday night. The Magic beat the Celtics at Orlando last Sunday, and will look to beat the C's for the second time in one week tomorrow night at TD Garden.
Although the Grizzlies outscored the Celtics in the paint, 50-36 and shot 47 percent from the field, they committed a lot more turnovers. The C's shot a solid 43 percent but only committed 16 turnovers, the Grizzlies committed 21.