Talking Points: Celtics 98, Grizzlies 80

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Talking Points: Celtics 98, Grizzlies 80

A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Healthy. Hurt. It doesn't really matter much these days for the Boston Celtics, whose under-manned lineup continues to overwhelm opponents with a suffocating display defensively.

You can add the Memphis Grizzlies to the teams Boston (13-10) has defended well, with the C's coming away with a 98-80 win.

After a relatively close first half, Boston began to trend toward blowout status in the fourth quarter. Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 24 points that included another 3-pointer - his third straight game with at least one 3-pointer made.

Memphis did have former UConn star Rudy Gay, who led the Grizzlies with 21 points and seven rebounds.

It became all but official with 3:31 to play, as the C's emptied their bench with a 20-point lead.

The victory extends Boston's winning streak to four in a row, which ties their longest string of wins this season.

Boston began the game on a sour note by not having Brandon Bass available. Bass, one of the NBA's top reserves this season, had some swelling in his left knee and was unavailable. He is being listed as day-to-day.

But as we've seen many times with the Celtics of late, injuries only serve as an opportunity for someone else to step in and contribute.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game that Chris Wilcox and JaJuan Johnson would log most of the minutes in Bass' absence.

Getting one of the two playing well would have been nice.

Truth be told, both made the most of their increased role.

First there was Wilcox, had had 12 points off the bench - 10 of which came in the first quarter.

Johnson saw rare first-half action on Sunday, and didn't waste much time showcasing an offensive game that proved to be one of the many challenges facing the Grizzlies.

The 6-foot-9 rookie finished with 10 points, his second straight game scoring in double figures.

As for the Grizzlies, they also have had their share of key players out with injuries. Zach Randolph has been out for all but four games this season with a torn MCL injury. And just minutes before tip-off, Memphis found out they wouldn't have Tony Allen because of a heel and hip injury.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)