Marcus Smart made a three-point play with 52 seconds left as Boston won its seventh game in the last 10 with a 95-92 win over the first-place Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Smart’s key play gave the surging Celtics the lead for good in front of a crowd of 17 100 at the Boston Garden arena.
“He’s a tough guy. Some guys are good in those moments,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens of Smart.
Avery Bradley, who just returned from a three-game absence due to an elbow injury, also made a clutch jumper to give the Celtics a three-point lead with eight seconds left. Bradley finished with 17 points.
“Right when it left my hand I knew it was going in,” said Bradley.
Memphis guard Mike Conley failed to connect on a three-point attempt at the other end and the Celtics moved a step closer in the Eastern Conference postseason race.
Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk tallied 16 and 15 points each for the Celtics.
Boston evened its home record at 16-16 on the season as they host Orlando next. They also snapped a five-game losing skid to the Grizzlies.
“Scoring was hard to come by,” said Stevens. “Sometimes it goes your way.”
Conley finished with 20 points on nine-of-12 shooting and Tony Allen had 16 points for the Southwest Division leading Grizzlies, which fell to 1-2 on a four-game road trip that ends Thursday in Washington.
Jeff Green, who was traded to the Grizzlies from the Celtics on January 12, managed just 11 points on a four-of-13 field goal shooting against his former teammates.