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Unlikely Bayless lifts Grizzlies past Celtics

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- At first, guard Jerryd Bayless was not sure how to explain his season-high 30 points. But there was no doubt that Bayless created the momentum that carried the Memphis Grizzlies to a 110-106 victory over the Boston Celtics Saturday night at a sold-out FedExForum and put the Grizzlies on the verge of clinching their third straight playoff berth.

"I just got it going," said Bayless, a reserve guard who entered the game averaging 7.8 points per game. "Mike (Conley) was looking for me, Z-Bo (Zach Randolph) was looking for me."

And the more they found him, the better things went for the Grizzlies (47-22), who will wrap up that playoff spot if Golden State loses later Saturday. Bayless hit 11-of-20 shots and 4-of-6 3-pointers as he came within a point of matching his career-best 31.

Bayless said he found motivation from a stranger.

"What kind of bothered me was this guy in orange sweat pants (with a floor seat). He was talking at me the whole time," Bayless said, adding with a smile, "I might have said some things back, but I'll keep that between him and me."

More important, was what Bayless said to his team: lean on me.

"JB gave us a huge lift," said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. "I mean, it was early on and I didn't know how we were going to score. JB started making shots and got on a roll and carried us in the first half."

That was crucial on a night when center Marc Gasol was out with what Hollins called a "slight abdominal strain" and Randolph did not start because he was late to shootaround. The Celtics (36-33) had their own issues as Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee both sat out with ankle injuries.

The Grizzlies built a 21-point in the fourth quarter and looked to have the game well in hand, up 98-77 with 7:16 to play. But that's when the Celtics went on a 25-6 run to cut the lead to two, 104-102, with 18.9 seconds left as Jordan Crawford (21 points) made two free throws. But Boston could draw no closer as the Grizzlies closed out the game by hitting 9-of-12 free throw.

"Twenty can go to 40 or 20 can go to two," said Boston's Terrence Williams, "So that's what we tried to do."

Paul Pierce led the Celtics, who dropped their fourth straight, with 26 points. Boston's road record fell to 12-23.

"Obviously, we don't have any room for error, especially when you have two starters out," Pierce said. "We have to do a better job with the turnovers (21 Grizzlies points on 15 Celtics turnovers). We have to rebound better."

Randolph recorded his 40th double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Conley also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. And he grabbed four steals.

Hollins played coy on the extent of Gasol's injury, saying only he's "day-to-day." But with the Grizzlies fighting Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers for playoff seeding -- they're bunched in spots 3-5 -- losing Gasol for any length of time would be a big hit.

"They were smaller (tonight), that's for sure," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Marc makes them great, as good as anybody in the West."

"We know whoever we play in the first round is going to be a tough opponent, a tough out," Conley said. "With Marc out, it's an opportunity for other guys to take a bigger role, more responsibility."

Ed Davis started in Gasol's spot and scored 11 points and had 8 rebounds in just 19 minutes. Darrell Arthur started in Randolph's place and came through with 18 points and 7 rebounds despite a sore knee and back.

"Jeff Green (Celtics forward) reminded me I couldn't move as well laterally as I wanted to a couple of times," Arthur said, "but the shots were going in today, fortunately."

Hollins said even when the Grizzlies had the huge lead, he wasn't convinced the issue was settled.

"When they made their subs and we were up 18, I think everybody thought the game was over," Hollins said. "I didn't think so. Sure enough, it wasn't."

NOTES: The Grizzlies are 4-0 when playing before a sold-out crowd at home this season. They also beat Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City. ... Former Celtic Tony Allen had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and the assignment of guarding Pierce. "I was mad at myself he got going," Allen said. "I'm just glad he scored all those points in a loss." ... The Celtics have one more game this season against a Western Conference team when they play at Minnesota on April 1. ... Ed Davis tied his career high with five blocked shots.
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