BOSTON -- The Celtics have quickly become accustomed to a Tacoma native coming up with big shots in the fourth quarter. But with Isaiah Thomas sidelined with a back injury Wednesday, Tacoma sidekick Avery Bradley took that torch in his first game back from a three-game absence.
Bradley scored a team-high 17 points, which included splashing a clutch late-game jumper over Marc Gasol, helping Boston emerge with a gritty 95-92 triumph over the visiting Grizzlies.
Crowder's 3-pointer with 1:40 to play tied the game at 88, but Tony Allen's drive broke down the Boston defense and he fed Zach Randolph for an easy layup with 52.2 seconds to play. The Celtics called timeout, and Brad Stevens drew up a gem with Marcus Smart collecting an alley-oop feed off the inbounds pass and converted an and-one layup that thrust Boston back out front 91-90 with 51.6 seconds to go.
The Grizzlies were still down one and elected to force the Celtics to attempt a shot with about a five-second differential on the game clock. Unfazed, Bradley canned a 21-foot jumper. Mike Conley missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Boston held on.
• Conley returns after injury scare: Conley had to be carried off the court by teammates after crashing to the floor with a non-contact injury midway through the third quarter. Fears of a knee injury were alleviated when Conley returned to the court in the fourth quarter. Turns out he just turned his right ankle.
• Loose balls: With Thomas sidelined for what's likely to be a few games, Phil Pressey played for only the second time this month. ... Shavlik Randolph, Gerald Wallace and James Young were all healthy DNPs. ... Olynyk started the second half for Zeller.
• What it means: The Celtics improve to 27-36; the Grizzlies fall to 45-19. Boston hosts Orlando in the front end of a back-to-back on Friday, then visits Indiana Pacers in a key matchup in the East standings on Saturday.