MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Boston Celtics carried a six-point lead into the fourth quarter and then watched it melt under the hot hand of MEMPHIS Grizzlies backup guard Jerryd Bayless and the hawking defense of shooting guard Tony Allen.
Bayless went from 0 to 15 points in the fourth quarter, hitting one jumper after another in rhythm and carrying MEMPHIS (2-2) to a 95-88 victory over the Celtics (0-4) Monday night at FedExForum. But to his way of thinking, he was operating at a deficit until then.
"I missed three layups in the first half," Bayless said. "I had to figure something out."
With 32 seconds to play, the Celtics were down three points and had the ball when power forward Jared Sullinger misfired on a 3-pointer. Power forward Zach Randolph grabbed the rebound for MEMPHIS and from there it was all Grizzlies free throws and desperation 3-pointers by Boston.
"We probably settled," first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the 3-pointer at the 32-second mark. "The game was turned by Bayless. They're a deep team. A very talented team. Tony Allen's a heck of a defender -- physical, tough, athletic."
The Celtics have not started a season 0-4 since the 1969-70 season, when they finished with a 34-48 record.
"Out of the four games we've played," Stevens said, "this is the best we've played. You do your best to focus on what's next and not pay too much attention to anything else."
In winning 56 games last season, MEMPHIS made its mark with defense. Only 10 times did opponents score 100 or more points. But each of the Grizzlies' first three opponents this season -- San Antonio (loss), Detroit (win in overtime) and Dallas (loss) -- cracked the century mark.
"That's our foundation," Bayless said of the team's defense. "We have to build who we are from that."
The Grizzlies played a part in the Celtics committing 21 turnovers, or right at their league-worst average. Boston also was limited to 14 assists -- again the team's per-game average and the low mark in the NBA.
"We speed up too much as a team," Sullinger said.
"Way too much," point guard Mike Conley said. "But I think slowly but surely it's starting to come together."
Boston finished the third quarter on a 15-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Sullinger near quarter's end after Grizzlies power forward Ed Davis was called for an out-of-bounds violation. The Celtics carried a 72-66 advantage into the fourth and were hopeful at that point.
"We're anxious to get a win and once we get that win, we'll get that monkey off our backs," Sullinger said.
Boston power forward Jeff Green had a game-high 22 points and Sullinger scored 16 off the bench for Boston. Randolph and Conley also had 15 points each for MEMPHIS (Conley added eight assists). And Allen, for one, wasn't surprised once Bayless hit one shot that many other baskets followed.
"That's what J.B. does," Allen said. "He's a volume scorer."
NOTES: Through the Celtics' first three games (all losses), they averaged 14.0 assists and 21.0 turnovers and ranked last in the league in both categories. "The silver lining is the best (point guard) in the league is sitting next to us in a nice suit," Boston coach Brad Stevens said, referring to All-Star Rajon Rondo, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee and has yet to play this season. ... Going into Monday night's game, MEMPHIS had won four of the last six games against the Celtics. ... When the Grizzlies signed swingman Mike Miller as a free agent in the offseason, there was a popular theory that the team would play him sparingly during the regular season because of his history of back trouble. But he averaged 32 minutes through the first three games. "I'm not going to put him in a cryo chamber till April," MEMPHIS coach Dave Joerger said.