The Celtics backcourt is finally whole, but the result Wednesday night was still a fourth consecutive loss by double digits.
Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley were back together for the first time since last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, but the Celtics lost, 93-83, to the Grizzlies at TD Garden. Bradley returned after being sidelined for seven months following surgeries on both shoulders. Rondo was able to play despite a painful hip pointer.
Rondo looked more fluid than he did in Sunday’s loss to the Kings, but he still missed seven of 11 shots and all four of his 3-point attempts. In his last four games, Rondo is 9 for 29 shooting even as the Celtics have depended more on him for scoring.
“I thought Rondo, as far as health-wise, I thought he was fine,” coach Doc Rivers said. “With the way we’re not scoring, and you could see Kevin [Garnett] struggle today with his shot, we really need [Rondo] to be more aggressive in our pick-and-roll package, in our offense. And it was funny, the beginning of the game he did that. And that’s not second nature to him, to be an aggressive scorer. But we really need him to be that.
“We need him to get in the open court, attack the basket, look for baskets in transition instead of guys shooting threes that aren’t going in. And that’s something we’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Rondo agreed with Rivers that he has to continue driving to the basket.
“That’s my game. I am going to continue to drive and I just didn’t get the calls tonight,” he said. “I’m out there playing. Everybody is fair game and I don’t really blame anything on my injury.”
No surgery for Wilcox
Backup center Chris Wilcox is unsure when he will return from a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb and he will be reexamined next week. Wilcox has been wearing a brace on his hand since sustaining the injury Dec. 18 at Chicago.
He said doctors have informed him he will not need surgery.
“The doc told me I need to take some time off. I gotta let it heal; it’ll be a while,” he said. “Yesterday I got good news; they told me I didn’t have to have the surgery. Now I’m just trying to see what I’m comfortable with.”
Wilcox, who last season underwent surgery to repair an enlarged aorta, said he considers this injury a minor setback.
“It’s been tough for me,” he said. “But this is minor compared to what’s happened to me in the past. Anything other than that is nothing.”
Run-in for Melo
Fab Melo was recalled from Maine of the Development League, but it was to get treatment for a concussion he received when he ran into a hotel door. Melo missed the Red Claws’ Dec. 31 win over Springfield and is questionable for Friday’s game with Erie.
Melo said he still feels concussion symptoms and is unsure when he can return.
“I still have a little headache sometimes. I can only focus on things for a certain time,” he said.
Melo, a first-round pick from Syracuse, has been making headlines, blocking 23 shots over a two-game period, including a league-record 14 Dec. 22 against Erie. In 12 games, the 7-footer is averaging 10.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks.
“The one thing that I do is block shots, to be able to do that in big numbers both games made me feel good,” he said. “I just want to keep that going.
“Games like that I feel like I can stop anything. A lot of my blocks are against my defender, so it’s timing and position. I’m more comfortable playing right now. I’m getting the speed of the game. My confidence is there.”
With the Celtics struggling mightily with interior defense, there has been talk Melo could be an asset off the bench. But the organization wants to keep him in the D-League so he can to continue to gain experience.
“I think I could help the team right now,” he said.
“But I think [president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] is thinking about developing me as a player and I think me staying there right now is going to be better for me in the future.”
When asked about Melo’s accident with the door, Rivers said: “What did you have, ‘Manny being Manny?’ Five years, when Fab’s playing terrific for us, we’re going to have some ‘Fab being Fab’ moments. He just got a head start.”
Wroten gets call
The Grizzlies recalled former University of Washington standout and first-round pick Tony Wroten from their NBADL affiliate in Reno. Wroten has played in three games this season . . . Rookie forward Kris Joseph is battling a sore right ankle and shoulder. He played in three consecutive games before sitting out Sunday night’s loss to Sacramento . . . Rivers said he is unsure whether the Celtics will keep center Jarvis Varnado at the deadline to guarantee contracts for the season Jan. 10.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.