Paul Pierce had 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists as the Boston Celtics (14-17) dropped another one, this time to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-9), 93-83, Wednesday night from TD Garden in Boston, MA.
It was clear from tip off that Avery Bradley's return to floor would mean more than just his individual defense, at least early on.
Throughout the first half, Bradley's energy and significant defensive efforts allowed his teammates to focus on their specific assignments and control the paint.
With Bradley stabilizing the starters, the bench unit came in midway through the first quarter and maintained their effort as a team on the defensive end, while taking a 26-25 lead to close the first quarter.
But in the second quarter, as Boston's defense dropped from shooting over 60 percent in the first quarter to a pedestrian 47 percent for the first half, the Grizzlies maintained their sharp outside shooting, while scoring more than half of their points in the pant (28). Memphis shot 61 percent for the half and led 50-41.
For the Celtics, their night only got progressively worse through the second half.
Boston offense relied primarily on Paul Pierce and his ability to do just about everything on offense, while Memphis was able to rely consistently throughout it's rotation. Pierce scored just two of Boston's 18 third-quarter points and the offense sputtered. Memphis, however, scored 25 points for the third consecutive quarter to maintain their strong output, as they locked down the Celtics and took a 16-point lead into the fourth.
Boston used a 17-4 run to climb back into the game and trailed the Grizzlies by five with just over four minutes remaining in the game. Memphis clamped down on the defensive end, and got to the free throw line, to extend their lead back to a sustainable 10 points with just over a minute to go as they closed out the night.
Mike Conley had 23 points and nine assists to lead the Grizzlies. Memphis shot 47 percent from the field and out rebounded the Celtics 39-27, while snagging eight offensive boards.
Jeff Green was the only Boston bench guy to score in double digits, notching 10 points in 14 minutes. As a team, the Celtics shot 45 percent from the field, while the hobbled Rajon Rondo scored 11 points and dished out 10 assists.
The Celtics will try to get back on track against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers, Friday from TD Garden at 8:00 pm ET.
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