BOSTON -- With just over three minutes to play, the ‘M-V-P’ chants for Kyrie Irving came and went as he went to the free throw line.
League MVP may be a stretch, but there’s no mistaking the value he has to this Boston Celtics team.
And it was on display Friday night as the Irving-led Celtics pulled away for a 122-116 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
As was the case against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Irving stepped up his game down the stretch to lead Boston (27-18) to its second straight win while handing the Raptors a loss for the 10th time in their last 11 games.
The Celtics, fueled by the play of their bench, had a strong finish to the first quarter with a 19-2 run that spilled into the early stages of the second quarter.
But as we’ve seen with the Celtics this season, no lead is safe especially when it's against team that has struggled like the Grizzlies who came in having lost nine of their previous 10 games.
It didn’t take long for Memphis to put its own strong surge together, going ahead 62-58 at the half.
Irving set the Celtics in motion with an early basket that sparked a 7-0 Celtics run that put Boston back on top 65-62.
After a Memphis timeout, the Grizzlies responded with a 6-0 spurt to regain the lead before Al Horford drained a corner 3-pointer to tie the game at 68.
Boston would eventually lead 96-90 after three quarters of play.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s six-point win over Memphis
Kyrie Irving: Sensing the Celtics needed him to carry more of the scoring load, Irving was indeed looking more for his own shot in the second half before finishing with 38 points and 11 assists for Boston which included 20 points in the third quarter. Irving, who also had seven rebounds, became the first Celtic since Larry Bird in February of 1986 to have at least 28 points and 11 assists in back-to-back games.
Mike Conley Jr.: Arguably the best current point guard in the NBA to have never been selected as an all-star, Conley had a strong game for the Grizzlies before finishing with 26 points.
Marcus Smart: With most of the Celtics’ starting frontcourt struggling to make shots, Marcus Smart gave Boston a much-needed lift offensively. He would finish the night with 20 points which included him knocking down 6-of-8 three-pointers.
Al Horford: Nobody has benefited more from Aron Baynes’ return than Horford, who seems a lot more impactful without having to bang against bigger bodies all game. He had a near double-double of 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Jaylen Brown: Boston led by as many as 16 points in the first half, and it was Brown’s scoring that had a significant part in the lead. He would finish with 12 points and six rebounds off the Celtics bench.
Shelvin Mack: Scoring and getting others involved was indeed on the menu for Shelvin Mack who led all Memphis backups with 15 points in addition to dishing out seven assists.
Jayson Tatum: It was a rough night shooting the ball in every sense of the word, all game for Tatum. He had six rebounds and four assists, but missed all six of his shots from the field and scored just two points.
Marc Gasol: It’s rare that a guy tallies a double-double the way Gasol did with 11 rebounds and 12 assists. It was shooting that gave him problems as he scored four points but missed nine of his 10 shots from the field.
Gordon Hayward: There was never any point where Gordon Hayward seemed to be in a good flow offensively or defensively. He had eight points but did so on 2-for-7 shooting. And his plus/minus for the game was -7 which was the worst among Boston bench players.
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