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Feb 3, 2024 12:40 pm

Grizzlies, Celtics meet in effort to shed dueling lulls

The Memphis Grizzlies will attempt to end a four-game losing streak when they visit the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

The four-game skid began with a 116-110 road loss to the Indiana Pacers last Sunday. Memphis followed that up with home losses to the Sacramento Kings, 103-94 on Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 108-101 on Thursday, and the Golden State Warriors, 121-101 on Friday.

The Grizzlies, who have dealt with injuries to their top players throughout the season, are averaging 107.2 points per game, which ranks last among the 30 NBA teams. Memphis shot 40.2 percent from the field and was 14 of 46 (30.4 percent) from 3-point territory during Friday’s loss.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 27 points against the Warriors. Jacob Gilyard added a career-high 16 points, and David Roddy also had 16.

“Guys competed,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “There’s kind of like a dual world we’re living in where when we’re moving the ball, 35 made shots, 30 assists, but then when we’re force feeding a little bit. We’re not making that early pass just to create that energy. … Guys had their moments, but we have to clean that up for sure. The guys are fighting. Battling.”

Memphis has been playing without Desmond Bane because of a sprained ankle. Bane is averaging 24.4 points per game this season. Ja Morant is out for the season after shoulder surgery.

The Celtics will be trying to avoid back-to-back home losses. Boston is coming off one of its worst performances of the season, a 114-105 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, who played without Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

“I’m not happy about it, but I’m not concerned by it,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I think it’s unacceptable. Doesn’t mean I’m concerned. We’ll work through it.

“I think part of a bad stretch of basketball is physical just as much as mental, and I think those two things go hand in hand. So I think it’s unacceptable for those things to happen, but if you take a look at the whole scope of our season, they happen very little.”

Boston began the season 20-0 at home but has lost three of its five home games since then.

“This quote always works for me: ‘You win or you learn,'” Boston center Kristaps Porzingis said. “You learn more from your losses 100 percent. … Of course we try to always look at each other, look at ourselves in the mirror like, ‘OK, even if we won, what are the things we need to clean up? What do we need to do better?’

“But it still doesn’t hit the same as when you actually get a loss. Then you’re really like, ‘OK, we need to get better at this, this, this, or this didn’t work, or we actually played all right, but we just didn’t make shots.’ We definitely learn more from the losses and I think this is healthy for us.”

Sunday’s game will be the second time the teams have faced each other this season. Porzingis scored 26 points to help the Celtics prevail 102-100 in a game played Nov. 19 in Memphis. The Celtics won despite 17 turnovers.

Memphis received a game-high 30 points from Bane in the November meeting, and Santi Aldama finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

–Field Level Media

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