Celtics Upset Grizzlies 95-92 In Thriller, Spoil Jeff Green’s Homecoming


BOSTON — When the Celtics visited the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this season, they left Tennessee battered, bruised and badly beaten.

It was a different story when the Grizzlies traveled to TD Garden on Wednesday.

The teams’ second meeting was a straight-up slugfest, with neither side able to build a double-digit lead. Celtics rookie Marcus Smart converted a sensational and-one alley-oop off an inbounds pass to put the Celtics ahead by one with less than a minute to play, and Avery Bradley buried a jumper with 7.9 seconds remaining to put the finishing touches on a 95-92 victory.

Jeff Green was back in the building Wednesday night, squaring off against his former team for the first time since being traded two months ago. It certainly was not the homecoming Green was hoping for, as he went just 4-for-13 from the field and missed a potential go-ahead shot in the final minute.

The forward also was not honored with a video tribute. That couldn’t have come as a surprise to him, however, as he said earlier this week that he did not expect one.

It also was the first game back in Boston for former Celtics guard Courtney Lee, and he fared no better, finishing with seven points (2-for-10 shooting) and five rebounds.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was the best player on the floor for either team for much of the night, but he went down with a knee injury midway through the third quarter. It initially looked serious, as Conley was carried off the floor and went straight to the locker room, but he returned to the court in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points.

Point guard Isaiah Thomas was unavailable for the Celtics (and might not return until next week) as he recovers from injuries suffered during his nasty spill Monday night in Miami. Thomas’ absence clearly hindered the second unit’s production, as his replacement, Phil Pressey, is lightyears behind when it comes to creating offense. Pressey finished with four points, and his only field goal came on a desperation halfcourt heave as time expired in the fourth quarter.

Jae Crowder (16 points) and Kelly Olynyk (15 points, six rebounds) both put up strong numbers off the bench, though, and the Celtics benefited from the return of Bradley, who missed their recent three-game road trip with an elbow sprain. The guard struggled mightily from deep (1-for-8) but still ended up with a team-high 17 points.

Memphis boasts arguably the NBA’s best big-man tandem in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and it certainly lived up to its billing the first time these teams met back in November. Gasol and Randolph combined for 48 points and 24 rebounds in that game — a Grizzlies blowout win — but the Celtics did a much better job against them in the early stages of Wednesday’s tilt.

Despite their distinct size disadvantage, the C’s held Gasol and Randolph to just eight points and eight boards combined in the first half. The Memphis bigs did turn it on over the final 24 minutes but still were limited to 23 points and 15 rebounds on the night.

Old friend Tony Allen was Memphis’ No. 1 weapon down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Up next: The Celtics will look to avenge Sunday’s loss in Orlando when they host the Magic on Friday.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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