Irving scores 25, Celtics hold off Grizzlies 109-98
BOSTON (AP) The Celtics hobbled into the All-Star break, dropping three games in a row.
In its three games back, Boston is looking like a team that made the most of the time off.
After scoring a basket early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies went nearly eight minutes without a field goal. The Celtics rallied during Memphis’ drought, and used a 22-6 run to increase their lead to 55-30.
Boston (43-19) led by as many as 28 points in the second half.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he thinks their preparation his been more consistent since coming back from the break.
”We’ve just played a little bit better,” Stevens said.
One player who the Celtics are continuing to lean on is Irving.
He went 8 of 13 from the field and connected on 5 out of 8 3-point attempts. In his last four games Irving is averaging 26.8 points on 39 of 64 shooting, including 15 of 28 from the 3-point line.
Irving said he’s feeding off the energy his teammates are giving him.
”It’s just our focus level, getting everybody back. Just knowing what we’re trying to get ready for,” Irving said.
Memphis (18-41) has lost 10 straight games and 10 consecutive on the road. The Grizzlies are also 0-10 on the road this season against the Eastern Conference. They remain the only NBA team with a road victory against the East.
Despite the loss, coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he left the court encouraged by the way his team competed in the fourth quarter, despite facing a double-digit deficit.
”We haven’t been a group that’s laid down, we’ve been a group of guys that have continued to fight,” he said.
Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans sat out his second straight game with a right rib injury.
Memphis has yet to win a game this season with Evans not in the lineup (0-10).
Grizzlies: Are now a Western Conference-worst 5-23 on the road this season. … Went 5 of 23 from the 3-point line… Started the second quarter 1 for 10 from the field. … With the loss, Memphis can’t extend its franchise-record streak of seven consecutive winning seasons. It is the third-longest active streak in the NBA behind only San Antonio (20) and Oklahoma City (eight).
Celtics: Irving has scored at least 25 points in nine of his last 14 games. … C Aron Baynes returned action after sitting out Saturday’s win against New York with a left elbow sprain.
Monday marked Gasol’s 700th career NBA game (all with the Grizzlies). It was the latest in a string of milestones he’s reached this season. With his 689th start on Feb. 7 against Utah, Gasol passed Conley for the most games started in franchise history. Gasol reached 10,000 career points back on Dec. 2 at Cleveland.
100 OR LESS
The Celtics improved to 28-3 this season when holding teams to less than 100 points. The 31 times Boston has held an opponent under the century mark this season are second to only San Antonio’s 34.
Grizzlies: Host Suns on Wednesday.
Celtics: Host Hornets on Wednesday.
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