BOSTON — The Memphis Grizzlies, off to the best start in franchise history, raised their record to 20-9 with a 93-83 victory over the slumping Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Boston, swept in three games in California, dropped its fourth straight, its fifth in the past six games. The Celtics fell to 14-17.
Mike Conley scored 23 points and dished out nine assists for Memphis, which hit eight of its first 12 shots from 3-point range, built an 18-point fourth-quarter lead and held off a mild Celtics charge. The Grizzlies missed their last six from behind the arc.
Rudy Gay, who has been struggling, scored 19 points, and former Celtics guard Tony Allen had 15 as the Grizzlies iced the game from the foul line. Memphis scored its final basket with 7:15 left.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley made his season debut, returning after two shoulder surgeries. He started and scored four points in 20 minutes.
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo, a question mark coming in due to a bruised hip, had 11 points and 10 assists, while Paul Pierce had 17 points and seven rebounds. Kevin Garnett added 12 points, seven boards and five assists.
Memphis came into the game as the NBA’s defensive leader, limiting opponents to an average of 90 points, and it easily beat that number.
Trailing 79-61, the Celtics went on a 10-2 run to cut the Memphis lead to 10 with 7:36 left, finally giving the TD Garden crowd something to cheer about.
The Grizzlies, who entered the night averaging 94.5 points per game, 22nd in the NBA, trailed by four after the first two minutes of the second quarter before taking over. They ran off a 10-0 spurt over a 2:26 span, including two 3-pointers by Darrell Arthur.
The 10-0 run grew to 21-8 by the end of the half, giving the Grizzlies a nine-point lead at the break. The margin was up to 15 midway through the third quarter, making the home crowd restless. It was 75-59 at the end of the third quarter, and the lead grew to 18 in the opening seconds of the fourth.
NOTES: Memphis guard Jerryd Bayless left the game in the first half with a left ankle strain and didn’t return. … While Rondo was questionable coming in, Bradley’s return was expected, and Boston coach Doc Rivers threw them out there together at the start. “I just think the quicker we get to our lineup, the better,” Rivers said. “We’re going to get to it anyway, so why wait?” The first Boston basket? Rondo to Bradley for a layup. … Big man Fab Melo, one of two Syracuse players drafted by the Celtics in 2012, was recalled from the Development League, but only as a technicality. He was in Boston to be examined for a mild concussion (suffered walking into a hotel door). In 12 games with the Maine Red Claws, he is averaging 10.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.83 blocks per game and set a league record for blocks when he had 14 to go with 15 points and 16 boards Dec. 22. … The Celtics host the Pacers on Friday night and then visit Atlanta and the Knicks on Saturday and Monday, respectively. The Grizzlies finished a two-game trip Wednesday. They go home to play Portland on Friday night and then visit Phoenix to open a three-game road trip. … While Bradley returned to help with the defense, Allen, Bradley’s predecessor as Boston’s defensive specialist, was in town with Memphis. Allen scored the first two baskets of the game.
Bulls 96, Magic 94: Carlos Boozer scored a season-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as visiting Chicago withstood a fourth-quarter comeback to hand Orlando its seventh consecutive loss.
Luol Deng added 23 points, including a pair of clinching free throws with 4.2 seconds left, and Taj Gibson added 21 points and 11 rebounds in a dominating performance by the Bulls’ starting frontcourt, which accounted for 75 of their 96 points.
Jameer Nelson tied his career high with 32 points and Nikola Vucevic had 10 of his 20 points in the final quarter to rally the Magic, who trailed by 18 points with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Boozer, Deng and Gibson — starting for center Joakim Noah — combined for all of Chicago’s 28 third-quarter points and sparked a 20-6 surge that built the lead to 76-58 with 4:39 left in the period.
Nelson responded with nine unanswered points in 76 seconds as Orlando cut the deficit to 82-71 entering the fourth and the Magic pulled within two points with 5:20 left. The Bulls extended the lead back to 10 before J.J. Redick and Arron Afflalo buried 3-pointers in an 8-0 spurt cut the lead to 94-92.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Noah and reserve F Vladimir Radmanovic sat out the game due to flu-like symptoms. Noah had two points and four rebounds in Monday’s loss to Charlotte. … Nelson, who sat out the last two games with a hip injury, was 6-of-9 from behind the arc and has connected on 14 of 24 3-point attempts in his last three games. … Bulls PG Derrick Rose, who is recovering from major knee surgery, accompanied the team on the two-game trip to Florida but is still expected to be sidelined until late February or early March.
Kings 97, Cavaliers 94: DeMarcus Cousins collected 18 points and 16 rebounds and Jason Thompson added 19 points and 10 boards as Sacramento snapped a seven-game road losing streak.
Francisco Garcia chipped in 14 points and Aaron Brooks scored 13 off the bench for the Kings, who won for just the second time in 15 road contests this season. The victory was also Sacramento’s second in its past 12 meetings with Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, rookie Dion Waiters added 20 off the bench and Alonzo Gee collected 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have lost three straight and nine of 11. Cleveland has dropped five straight at home dating to Dec. 11.
Cleveland used an 8-0 run to secure a 53-52 halftime lead, but the Kings opened the third quarter with seven straight points for a 59-53 advantage and carried a three-point margin into the fourth quarter.
It was tight throughout the final period, but the Kings made three of four free throws in the final eight seconds and Irving’s desperate heave at the buzzer was off the mark.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Cleveland C Anderson Varejao, the NBA’s leading rebounder, missed his seventh consecutive game with a bruised right knee. … The Kings were without guards Tyreke Evans (knee) and Marcus Thornton (ankle), their No. 2 and 3 scorers. Evans has missed nine straight games and Thornton has sat out the last two. … The Kings improved to 2-18 when trailing at the half and 11-1 when ahead after three quarters.