Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Smart's three-point play with 52.2 seconds left put Boston ahead, and the Celtics held on for a critical 95-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Back from a three-game absence caused by an elbow injury, Avery Bradley put up 17 points and buried a key jumper that put Boston up by three with 7.9 seconds left. After Mike Conley badly missed a 3-point try on the other end, the surging Celtics inched closer in the Eastern Conference playoff race with their seventh win in 10 games.
Boston now trails Miami by 1 1/2 games for the East's No. 8 seed.
Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Celtics.
Conley finished with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Tony Allen had 16 points for Memphis, which fell to 1-2 on a four-game trip that ends Thursday in Washington.
Returning to TD Garden for the first time since being traded by the Celtics to the Grizzlies on Jan. 12, Jeff Green managed just 11 points on a 4-of-13 field goal rate against his former team.
With Boston down 90-88 in the final minute, Evan Turner tossed up an alley-oop pass out of a timeout that Smart banked in while falling down and being fouled by Courtney Lee. The rookie hit the ensuing bonus attempt as well, right before Green missed an off-balance runner and the Celtics' Tyler Zeller pulled down the rebound prior to being fouled and making both shots for a 93-90 lead.
Green put back his initial errant try with 29 seconds to go to bring Memphis back within one, but Bradley drained a clutch pull-up just inside the arc that held up when Conley was well off the mark on a 28-footer at the buzzer.
A defensively dominated game in which neither team was ahead by more than eight points saw four lead changes in the final 5 1/2 minutes. A Conley triple and Allen's reverse layup had the Grizzlies up 82-78 with 4:46 left, but Olynyk nailed a trey and Smart hit another acrobatic shot to send Boston ahead a minute afterward.
Memphis made their next three shots to take an 88-85 advantage inside of two minutes, a lead that was quickly erased when Crowder knocked down a 3-pointer off a Turner give.
Boston owned a 23-18 edge after one quarter behind 10 points from Brandon Bass, but shot just 30.4 percent while recording a mere 16 points in the second. The Grizzlies closed out the first half on a 6-0 run and forged a 39-39 tie at the break when Zach Randolph found a cutting Allen with 30.7 seconds on the clock.
Bradley had eight third-quarter points and staked the Celtics to a 58-52 lead with a successful jumper with 4:34 remaining in the period. Memphis countered with a 6-0 spurt, however, and trailed just 64-63 entering the fourth after Olynyk beat the buzzer on an outside shot.
The teams combined for 38 turnovers, with the Grizzlies committing 21 giveaways ... Boston prevailed despite point guard Isaiah Thomas sitting out due to an ailing back and elbow ... Bradley went 1-of-8 from 3-point range but hit 7-of-9 shots inside the arc ... Zeller scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter ... The Celtics halted a five-game losing streak in the series and defeated Memphis for the first time since a 98-80 home win on Feb. 5, 2012.