BOSTON – Memphis wanted to do all it could to not allow Isaiah Thomas to not have another record-setting performance against them.
Thomas still made a significant imprint on the game in the first half, but unlike the career-high 44 points he dropped on the Grizzlies last week, Thomas had some help in the first half as Boston pulled away in the second quarter to lead 56-48.
Boston lead 28-24 after the first quarter, a game that was closer than the Celtics would have wanted in part because of the unusually high number of turnovers Memphis forced them into committing.
The Celtics average 12.2 turnovers per game, but had seven in the first quarter which led to seven points for the Grizzlies.
Playing without Mike Conley (left toe) and Chandler Parsons (knee), Memphis leaned on his best player who was healthy – Marc Gasol.
The All-Star center was indeed a problem for the Celtics at both ends of the floor, but he was particularly effective scoring the ball with 16 first-half points – just 3.7 shy of his season average.
But the Celtics countered with a balanced attack led by Thomas’ 12 points.
As was the case in Boston’s win at New York on Christmas Day, the Celtics got a huge lift off the bench from Gerald Green.
Within moments of checking into the game he drained a mid-range jumper. That would be the start of an eight-minute stretch in which the veteran guard scored 10 points.
The Grizzlies continued to battle despite being undermanned, and for the most part kept the deficit within single digits.
A 7-0 spurt by Boston put them ahead 56-43, only for the Grizzlies to score the final five points of the half.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s game.
No Memphis Grizzlies player came more ready to make an impact on the game than Gasol. He delivered a dominant first half performance, scoring 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field.
Despite the Memphis Grizzlies’ intentions to “throw the kitchen sink” in trying to limit Isaiah Thomas, he still had a fairly productive first half of play. After two quarters, he had 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field with two assists.
Proving his play at New York was no fluke, Green came back with a strong first half off the Celtics bench with 10 points in eight minutes on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.
The last couple of weeks have seen Johnson play some of his most consistent basketball as a Celtic. In the first half he had four points to go with nine rebounds and two assists.
With Mike Conley (left toe) and Chandler Parsons (knee) out, Allen had to become more of a scorer for the Grizzlies. He responded with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting.
Boston looked like they were for a high turnover night with seven in the first quarter. But better poise in the second quarter resulted in the Celtics turning the ball over just one more time. Still, even eight at the half is high for a team that averages just 12.2 per game which ranks 4th in the league.