Celtics-Grizzlies Live: Jared Sullinger’s Late Surge Not Enough as C’s Lose 100-93

Jeff GreenFinal, Grizzlies win 100-93: Jared Sullinger continues to turn into a beast before our very eyes. With the Celtics on their deathbeds in the fourth quarter, the second-year forward scored 10 straight Celtics points to give them life — only to see the Grizzlies hold them off at the end.

Sullinger finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds in the odd game where at least three Celtics played very well but the team didn’t come away with the win. Brandon Bass did work defensively on Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph, helping hold Z-Bo to 5-for-16 shooting. Bass managed to set a career high with 13 rebounds in the process.

Jeff Green also played fairly well, scoring 26 points, including a key 3-pointer to support Sullinger’s efforts in the fourth. Ultimately, a 13-point first quarter and 15 turnovers leading to 14 Memphis points prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome, despite their fight at the end.

Fourth quarter, :02.7, Grizzlies 98-93: That’s not what the Celtics wanted. They fouled Bayless, who hit both freebies, then Crawford went for a layup for some reason — which he missed.

Bayless heads to the line to ice this thing. Quite the effort by the Celts, though.

Fourth quarter, :14.4, Grizzlies 96-93: What in the name of Tracy McGrady is going on here?

Green and Bradley have hit threes to give the Celtics a prayer with just seconds to play. Another foul and a miss by the Grizzlies gives Boston life.

Fourth quarter, :27.5, Grizzlies 94-87: Sullinger really wants this game. He just might run out of time.

Sullinger has scored 10 straight Celtics points as Boston has a glimmer of hope. He’s done it with two 3-pointers and a few putbacks to keep the Grizzlies worried.

Fourth quarter, 1:17, Grizzlies 90-80: It’s a longshot, but the Celtics refuse to go away. Sullinger drains a three from the corner to get the Celtics back within 10 after Randolph extended Memphis’ lead briefly to 13.

Fourth quarter, 3:32, Grizzlies 87-77: The Celtics are back in business, even if it’s very, very tenuous business.

A reverse dunk by Green and an and-one tip-in by Sullinger now has the Celtics back within 10 — and the next couple possessions will determine whether they actually have a shot or if this is fool’s gold again.

Fourth quarter, 4:42, Grizzlies 85-70: Bass deserves kudos for his defense, but it’s taken a lot out of him. He’s missed three jumpers that he usually makes in his sleep, including a key miss that could have narrowed Boston’s deficit to 12 points.

The Celtics just keep letting opportunities to close the gap get away, while the Griz are just sharp enough to gradually put some distance between themselves and the Celtics.

Fourth quarter, 6:49, Grizzlies 83-68: Vitor Faverani and Jared Sullinger are working at both ends, but their hustle buckets keep getting negated by Memphis’ execution on offense.

Faverani got victimized by Calathes, who tossed an alley-oop to Ed Davis off a pick and roll. The Celtics also apparently forgot to cover Bayless, the Grizzles’ leading scorer tonight, leaving him wide open in transition for a three.

Fourth quarter, 8:55, Grizzlies 76-64: Maybe the answer for the Grizzlies is to go with a few more of their reserves. Nick Calathes and Mike Miller have each hit baskets to keep the Celtics at arm’s length as Memphis refuses to let the Celtics back into the game.

End of third quarter, Grizzlies 69-59: With Gasol out, the Grizzlies need Randolph to be massive. The Celtics have kept Randolph from that so far, and it’s why they still have some life.

Kris Humphries was the latest Boston big to provide quality minutes against Z-Bo, hustling and banging his way to eight points and six rebounds in the game. With Green and Bradley finding some offensive rhythm, the Celtics have cut the deficit to 10 points — a manageable number heading into the final quarter.

If not for their awful first quarter, the Celtics could be winning this game. They’ve outscored Memphis 46-42 since being outscored 27-13 in the first frame. Let’s see if they can make up the rest of the difference in the last 12 minutes.

Third quarter, 5:23, Grizzlies 59-48: Bass and Sullinger are getting into Randolph’s hair, and now Bradley’s getting into the action against Conley. Randolph has complained a couple of times to the referees about the Celtics’ physical defense, and Conley drew an offensive foul for using his off arm to shove away Bradley.

The Grizzlies are one of the league’s most physical teams, but it’s a truism that physical teams don’t enjoy it when opponents hit back. The Celtics are trying their best to hit back now.

As stout as Bass has been defensively, there was a somewhat scary moment when he hauled in a rebound and Randolph undercut him. Bass’ right leg slipped out under him awkwardly and he went down clutching his knee, but he shook it off and stayed in the game.

Halftime, Grizzlies 49-36: Somewhere along the line, Brandon Bass turned into a darn good defender. He’s showing it once again against a tough cover.

Bass and Zach Randolph were banging away in the post. It even appeared there was some sniping back in forth, which is out of character for the mild-mannered Bass. But the Celtics forward got the best of the final few minutes of the first half.

Bass got a putback dunk over an onlooking Randolph and then recovered on defense to nicely defend a fastbreak layup attempt by Koufos without fouling. Now if only that defense could be extended to the perimeter, where Bayless and Conley have combined for 23 points, the Celtics might be on to something.

Still, the Celtics’ defense wasn’t terrible in the first half. Their offense was. The Celtics shot a cool 37 percent from the field, with the normally dependable trio of Bradley, Sullinger and Crawford shooting a clankworthy 6-for-18 from the field. Eight turnovers have not helped the Celtics’ cause offensively, either.

Second quarter, 2:47, Grizzlies 45-34: The Celtics are on a rousing run … to cut the deficit to 11.

All right, so it’s not the most epic comeback, but it’s enough to make Memphis sweat a little. Coach Dave Joerger asked for the timeout, because apparently only being up by low double-digits is scary to him.

Avery Bradley did have a nice sequence when he got a tip dunk on a miss by Sullinger and drained a corner three in transition after a blocked shot by Brandon Bass. More of that and the Celtics might actually get this down to single digits.

Second quarter, 6:17, Grizzlies 38-23: Jared Sullinger didn’t mean to pass the ball between his legs to Kris Humphries for a dunk, but in effect he did, so he’ll take it.

The Celtics have scored two straight baskets against the Grizzlies, which in this game amounts to a major run. Mike Conley being off the floor helps, although Jerryd Bayless has picked up where Conley left off (and where Bayless left off the last time he played the Celtics) by scoring 11 points off the bench.

Humphries has gradually gotten more playing time lately, especially with Kelly Olynyk hurt, and so far he’s delivering with four points tonight.

Second quarter, 8:32, Grizzlies 32-19: Vitor Faverani is having all sorts of trouble with Koufos, reinforcing what Stevens said prior to the game about Koufus being better than the average backup center.

Faverani started the second quarter but didn’t last long. He got the quick hook after missing his first three shots, although he converted his third miss for a putback bucket. Jared Sullinger relieved him and immediately scored a hook shot over Ed Davis, because Sullinger is really good.

End of first quarter, Grizzlies 27-13: Allowing Mike Conley to score 10 points in the first quarter is almost forgivable. Letting Mike Miller, who is about as mobile as an end table, get open in transition for a 3-pointer is not as forgivable.

Defensive lapses aside, the Celtics should probably get around to scoring some points. Jeff Green oohed and aahed the crowd with a slashing layup and a juking bucket past Tayshaun Prince on the break, but the Celtics shot just 5-for-18 from the field and turned the ball over six times.

Green has eight of the Celtics’ 13 points.

First quarter, 5:35, Grizzlies 12-9: The Grizzlies aren’t the dominant defensive squad they were last year, but you wouldn’t know it watching the first few minutes of this one.

The Griz have forced three turnovers and scored six points on fastbreaks already to build an early lead. Three points is far from insurmountable, but with the way the Grizzlies grind every last second out of a possession, three points against them might as well be eight or 10 points against a different team.

7:01 p.m.: Yes, Marc Gasol is out for the Grizzlies for the foreseeable future. No, Brad Stevens does not see that as a problem for Memphis.

Kosta Koufos will start for the second straight game in place of Gasol, who is out indefinitely with a sprained left knee. Of course, Koufos can hold his own, even if he’s no Gasol.

“Koufos is not your typical backup center,” Stevens said.

He is not. Koufos started 81 games last season for the Nuggets, who posted the third-best record in a stacked Western Conference. As a pure rebounder, he is better than Gasol, but his all-around game — from his defense to his shooting and passing — are obviously a step down from the defending NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The projected starters are below.

Grizzlies
Kosta Koufos
Zach Randolph
Tayshaun Prince
Tony Allen
Mike Conley

Celtics
Jared Sullinger
Brandon Bass
Jeff Green
Avery Bradley
Jordan Crawford

8 a.m. ET: The Celtics will be home for the holiday — or home for the days before and after the holiday, that is.

The Celtics (6-10) open up their two-game Thanksgiving homestand Wednesday against the Grizzlies (7-7) in a battle of two teams that are trying to figure things out. The Celtics’ issues are well-documented and were to be expected after an offseason that saw them part ways with an elite head coach and two future Hall of Famers. The Grizzlies’ inconsistency is less understandable, seeing as all they really lost was their head coach.

Of course, the Grizzlies have bigger problems now. Center Marc Gasol is out indefinitely with a sprained knee, but he’s only missed one of Memphis’ games so far, so his injury can’t be blamed for the team’s record. The Griz just aren’t as good defensively as they were a year ago, when they boasted the league’s second-most efficient defense. Now, they are a pedestrian 16th.

Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.