6:25 p.m. ET: It’s been a week of queasiness for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The team with the NBA’s best record has been ravaged by a stomach virus, with no fewer than seven players feeling the effects of the bug. Beno Udrih, Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer, Courtney Lee and Tony Allen all were too ill to play Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, and Quincy Pondexter and Jarnell Stokes have since fallen victim, as well.
The depleted Grizzlies lost that game 96-92 — just their second defeat of the season — and all seven virus-stricken players have been listed as questionable for Friday’s date with the Boston Celtics.
Even if some of those players are unable to go, the Grizzlies still will provide a very difficult matchup for the Celtics, who snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday with a victory over the winless Philadelphia 76ers.
Memphis’ three most important players — center Marc Gasol, point guard Mike Conley and power forward Zach Randolph — have remained healthy, and the Grizzlies’ defense is as formidable as ever, ranking second in the NBA with an average of 91.8 points allowed per game.
Barring any late scratches, here are the projected starting lineups:
Celtics fans of course will recognize two names from that Grizzlies starting five, as both Lee and Allen donned the green and white earlier in their respective careers. Lee spoke about his days in Boston at Friday morning’s shootaround.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Follow along with all the action right here, and follow NESN.com Celtics beat writer Zack Cox on Twitter for instant updates and analysis.
Thumbnail photo via Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports Images
Everyone waiting for a change in the Celtics starting lineup…will have to keep waiting. No changes tonight in Memphis.
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) November 21, 2014
First quarter 11:59, 0-0: Marc Gasol wins the opening tip for Memphis, and we are underway.
Quincy Pondexter and Tony Allen both have been ruled out for the Grizzlies. Tayshaun Prince will take Allen’s spot in the starting lineup.
First quarter 5:57, Grizzlies 16-7: The Grizzlies’ bigs are eating the Cetlics alive early. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have combined to score 13 of Memphis’ 16 points, and Randolph already has a game-high four rebounds.
On the Celtics’ side, Kelly Olynyk hasn’t been shy about shooting the ball, but he hasn’t done so particularly well. The center has taken seven shots but made just one, a 3-pointer.
First quarter 2:39, Grizzlies 21-14: The Grizzlies clearly have the frontcourt advantage in this game. Some speculated that the Celtics would try to combat that by pushing the pace, but really haven’t done so thus far. As a result, Boston hasn’t had much success on the offensive end. Jeff Green has been Boston’s most productive player in the early going, leading the way with five points on 2-of-3 shooting.
End first quarter, Grizzlies 25-16: The Celtics managed just two points over the final 3:55 of the first quarter, and as a result, they trail by nine.
Marc Gasol has 11 points to lead all scorers, Mike Conley has eight and Zach Randolph has six. The trio combined to go 10-for-14 from the floor in the first.
Key stats for the Celtics: Two points in the paint and zero fast-break points.
Second quarter 8:53, Grizzlies 31-25: Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner have helped ignite the Celtics’ offense here in the second. Thornton has five points already in the frame, and Turner has four.
Second quarter 5:45, Grizzlies 37-31: As was the case Wednesday, the Celtics’ bench is keeping Boston in the game. Thornton, Turner and Brandon Bass have a combined 15 points, while no C’s starter has more than five.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, Grizzlies reserve big man Jon Leuer has eight points on 4-of-4 shooting to help keep Memphis’ lead relatively comfortable.
Second quarter 3:29, Grizzlies 45-33: Leuer has been the best player on the court in this second quarter. In just eight minutes, the Wisconsin product already has 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Halftime, Grizzlies 55-41: Tayshaun Prince buries a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Grizzlies their largest lead of the night. It was Prince’s first points of the night.
As expected, Memphis is absolutely dominating the Celtics down low. Thirty of the Grizzlies’ points have come in the paint, and 33 have come from either Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph or Jon Leuer.
The Celtics, meanwhile, do not have one scorer in double figures. Marcus Thornton’s seven points off the bench have led the way.
Third quarter 11:59, Grizzlies 55-41: Rajon Rondo brings the ball up the court to begin the second half.
Third quarter 9:55, Grizzlies 57-51: Some sluggish play from the Grizzlies allowed the Celtics to rip off a 10-2 run to open the third. That stretch was capped off by a Kelly Olynyk 3-pointer — the first points for the center since the 9:45 mark of the first quarter.
Third quarter 6:11, Grizzlies 70-55: Marc Gasol is just too good.
The Celtics have been able to stay within striking distance for much of this third quarter, but they still have no answer for Gasol, whose latest bucket gave Memphis its largest lead of the night. The Grizzlies big now has a game-high 24 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Zach Randolph also is putting together a nice stat line for Memphis, notching a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.
Third quarter 1:36, Grizzlies 78-69: Kelly Olynyk has decided to take over on the offensive end for the Celtics, and it’s yielded much better results than it did earlier in the game. Olynyk has scored 11 of Boston’s last 13 points to up his team-high total to 17, and it’s helped the C’s cut their deficit down to single digits.
End third quarter, Grizzlies 82-70: The Memphis lead sits at 12 with 36 minutes in the books.
Fourth quarter 8:46, Grizzlies 90-78: Evan Turner scored on three straight possessions, but it was not enough to whittle even a point off the Grizzlies’ lead. Jon Leuer returned for Memphis after not playing at all in the third and picked up five quick points. He’s up to 15 points — his season high — on the night.
Fourth quarter 3:33, Grizzlies 105-89: It looks like the Grizzlies are going to run away with this one. The Celtics still have shown ability to slow down Marc Gasol, who now is up to 30 points.
Final, Grizzlies 117-100: The Celtics give rookies James Young and Dwight Powell some playing time as the clock winds down, and the Grizzlies are able to coast to an easy win.
Marc Gasol led all scorers with 32 points, Zach Randolph notched a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Jon Leuer came out of nowhere to have a career night for the Grizzlies, finishing with 19 points, seven boards and four assists.
Kelly Olynyk paced the Celtics with 18 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter.
The C’s now return home, where they’ll face the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
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