BOSTON — The Celtics finally put together efficient offense with timely defense against the Memphis Grizzlies.
There was just one problem: the hole they dug themselves was too deep.
So, once again, the Celtics had to settle for a "good try, good effort" performance as Memphis held on for a 100-93 win.
Trailing 90-77 with about two minutes to play, Celtics fans who made their way towards the TD Garden concourses really needed to do a U-turn as Boston finally began playing with the sense of urgency that was lacking most of the game.
Three-point bomb after another started to rain for Boston which included a bank-shot 3-ball by Jeff Green that cut Memphis' lead to 94-90 with about 20 seconds to play.
Boston wasn't done.
In a textbook series of passes where the ball barely touched the floor, Avery Bradley drained a corner 3-ball that made it a one-possession game, 96-93, with 14.4 seconds to play.
A Grizzlies timeout was about the only thing that was slowing down the late-game momentum the Celtics were riding.
To Memphis' credit, they made all their free throws to secure the victory.
Green led all scorers with 26 points, while Jared Sullinger had 23 points along with 12 rebounds for the Celtics. Memphis got a team-high 22 points from Jerryd Bayless while Mike Conley had 14 points and nine assists.
The loss ended a two-game winning streak for Boston (6-11) while extending to four their losing streak to Memphis.
Boston fell behind from the outset, and never fully recovered as Memphis led by as many as 19 points in the first half.
Conley seemed to get to the paint whenever he wanted to, scoring 10 points in the first quarter - all lay-ups.
The Grizzlies made 12 field goals in the first, nine of which were lay-ups or dunks.
Boston made a mini-surge in the second quarter when Bradley scored on a put-back basket and moments later, nailed a 3-pointer that brought the Celtics within 45-34.
Unable to inch any closer, the Celtics trailed 49-36 at the half and spent the bulk of the third quarter digging themselves out of a double-digit deficit.