November 20, 2014

The Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics are stuck in offensive ruts, but one has been able to claw out a few more victories along the way.

The Grizzlies will try to build on an ugly win during an offensively inept stretch while the visiting Celtics hope to snap out of their shooting funk Sunday night - possibly again without their coach.

While Boston (19-17) has lost four of five during its scoring woes, Memphis (20-18) has won four of six despite a similar stretch in its last four games. The Grizzlies are 2-2 despite averaging 90.8 points and shooting 38.7 percent.

Friday's 91-84 victory over Denver was Memphis' fifth straight home win and opened a six-game homestand - the team's longest since late 2013. It was also the epitome of an ugly win as the Grizzlies played without Mike Conley (left Achilles) and Courtney Lee (left hip contusion) while coach Dave Joerger was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Neither team shot 37.0 percent and they combined for four quarters with 20 or fewer points.

The Grizzlies, though, committed just eight turnovers to the Nuggets' 18 and held them to a season-low for a Memphis opponent with seven points in the second quarter.

''We just kept fighting. Kept playing,'' said Zach Randolph, who scored 24 points off the bench. ''That's our team. That's our personality. We get it in the mud, play inside out and play defense. It's not pretty. We just play hard.''

Memphis continued its defensive trend, holding an opponent to fewer than 100 points for the 11th time in the last 13 games. Opponents are averaging 93.4 points while shooting 42.1 percent during that stretch.

Mario Chalmers made just 3 of 13 shots while starting in place of Conley, though he connected on two key 3-pointers and scored eight of his 12 points in the final 90 seconds. Chalmers finished with 23 in Wednesday's 112-94 loss at Oklahoma City.

Conley is Memphis' second-leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, and it is unclear if he will return to the lineup.

The Celtics have also struggled offensively without their second-best scorer. Avery Bradley (14.7 ppg) missed his third consecutive game Thursday with a sore left hip, and Boston shot 35.7 percent in a 101-92 loss at Chicago.

Boston's top scorer Isaiah Thomas has averaged 18.3 points in Bradley's absence, but he has shot just 32.7 percent.

The Celtics, winners of seven of their last 10 road games, have shot 39.8 percent in their last five games and 36.5 while averaging 93.0 points in their last two. Boston was the third-best 3-point shooting team in the league at 38.2 percent from Nov. 30-Dec. 21 behind Golden State (41.5) and Houston (38.6) but has plummeted to last in eight games since at 24.4 percent.

''But we have to turn it back around and get back on our high horse and get back to running our offense the way we should," said Jared Sullinger, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds at Chicago.

It is unclear if Bradley will be available Sunday, and the same can be said for coach Brad Stevens. He missed his first game in two seasons with the Celtics on Thursday to visit his former Butler player Andrew Smith, who has been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Assistant Jay Larranaga filled in for Stevens against the Bulls and said afterward he wasn't sure when Stevens would rejoin the team.

Boston won the last matchup in this series 95-92 on March 11, but the Grizzlies won the previous five, including three in Memphis.

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