BOSTON – For much of this season, Gerald Green could be found on the Boston Celtics’ bench, loudly cheering on his teammates while he waited for his opportunity to play meaningful minutes.
Well the veteran guard is making quite a bit of noise now as a viable scoring threat off the Celtics’ bench.
For the second straight game, Green delivered a much-needed offensive punch in helping Boston emerge victorious with the latest victim being the Memphis Grizzlies who were beaten 113-103.
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Green came off the Celtics’ bench with a season-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, doing so in just 19 minutes of court time, in addition to grabbing five rebounds.
And his points, particularly those in the fourth quarter, were huge for Boston (19-13) which has won six of its last seven games.
After Memphis’ Zach Randolph made it a one-possession game (95-92), Green drained the last of his three, 3-pointers with 7:32 remaining.
Later in the quarter, the Celtics’ lead was down to 100-97 when Green was fouled driving to the basket.
He made both free throws with 4:04 to play, that made it a two-possession game again.
Keeping the game close was a priority for the undermanned Grizzlies who were playing without a pair of starters in Mike Conley (left toe) and Chandler Parsons (knee).
With the score close in the fourth, Boston leaned heavily on Isaiah Thomas who scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth.
The Celtics also got a strong performance down the stretch from Avery Bradley who led all Celtics with 23 points with 10 coming in the third quarter to help withstand a strong push by the Grizzlies (20-14) who were led by Marc Gasol’s 26 points and nine assists. Former Celtic Tony Allen had 17 points and eight rebounds while Zach Randolph came off the Grizzlies bench to tally a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Boston led 28-24 after the first quarter, although it certainly felt like it should have been a bigger lead.
The reason it wasn’t?
Boston averages just over 12 per game which ranks among the best in the NBA. But in the first quarter, Memphis forced the Celtics into committing seven turnovers which led to seven points which is exactly what an undermanned team on the road like Memphis, needs in order to pull off the upset.
But the second quarter was a near-flawless one for the Celtics when it came to turning the ball over. And not surprisingly, that allowed Boston to assert greater control on the game as they pulled ahead by 13 points late in the second quarter behind a 7-0 run.
But the always-resilient Grizzlies responded by scoring the final five points of the half which ended with the Celtics ahead 56-48.
The third quarter was similar to the first two, with the Grizzlies finding a way to stay within striking distance as JaMychal Green came up with big plays (he scored all eight of his points in the third quarter) to help Memphis chip ever-so-slightly into Boston’s lead which stood at 84-77 going into the fourth.