MEMPHIS — It’s quite possible the Celtics’ post-Rajon Rondo team won’t get completely healthy before the playoffs.
After Courtney Lee said he would miss at least Saturday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies because of a sprained left ankle, Kevin Garnett also was declared out, also with a sprained left ankle. Garnett will be examined further when the team returns to Boston on Sunday.
Coach Doc Rivers was unsure when Garnett sustained the injury. Garnett missed two games because of a strained left adductor muscle and the flu, but returned for two games, combining for 36 points and 18 rebounds, playing 29 minutes in both.
“The first I heard of it was [Friday] night,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he hurt it in the game [Friday] night or a couple of games [ago]. I have no idea.
“Whenever somebody does anything with an ankle, they do an MRI. So I’m sure him and Courtney, they’ll probably do one [on him], too.”
Against the Grizzlies, the Celtics started Jeff Green at forward and Jordan Crawford at shooting guard. Boston got a break, though, as Memphis center Marc Gasol (abdominal tear) was a scratch, and forward Zach Randolph was removed from the starting lineup for being late to shootaround.
The Grizzlies proved to be too much, grabbing a 110-106 victory despite a furious Celtics’ rally.
“You don’t want to face this team small, because even their smalls are big,” said Rivers. “One thing you do enjoy in playing Memphis is that you feel like you’re playing in the East because they play like [an Eastern Conference team]. They’re a physical, tough team.”
Lee said he landed awkwardly on the back of Mavericks guard Mike James’s foot Friday during the game’s most pivotal play, when O.J. Mayo drained a wide-open 3-pointer with 1:21 left. Lee had to be carried to the bench, but was able to walk to the locker room.
Lee said, however, that the sprain is one of the worst he’s sustained and he will need a couple of days of rest.
“I want to practice Monday and see how it feels Monday,” he said. “The swelling went down a lot. I wouldn’t be able to go anyway. I can go forward but not laterally.”
The Celtics now have a four-game losing streak, and are trying to hold on to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s definitely tough, every game counts now,” Lee said. “We’ve got to start winning every game now. You tweak [your ankle] every now and then but you can still run, but when you roll it like this, this is one of the worst ones because it rolled all the way.”
When Jerryd Bayless torched the Celtics for 20 first-half points, most of those came off Crawford. Their battle became physical as Bayless was assessed a technical foul with 6:36 left in the second quarter for pushing Crawford after the Celtics guard flipped the ball into his stomach following a hard foul.
The two continued to talk trash, though Crawford said the two have no history.
“I don’t even know the dude,’’ Crawford said. “I don’t even know how to say his name.”
An up and Comer
While it was a difficult day for Celtics injuries, Rivers was all smiles when talking about Florida Gulf Coast University guard Brett Comer, who was a teammate of Rivers’s son Austin at Winter Park (Fla.) High School.
The Rivers family spent a lot of time with Comer and his mother, Heather, while Comer’s father, Troy, was suffering from cancer. Troy Comer died in January 2010.
Comer had 12 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds in Florida Gulf Coast’s 78-68 upset of second-seeded Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
“It was awesome,”said Rivers. “I have known him literally since him and Austin won the AAU national title at 10 years old. You know, Brett’s gone through a lot in his life. Through high school, they basically had to nurse his dad, him and his mom, and it’s just those two and his grandmother. So, it’s really nice, just a huge place in my heart.
“It was really good to see him [play well]. People were making fun of the lob pass, like how free he plays, and I was thinking you don’t know Brett Comer the way we know Brett Comer.”
Said Comer: “The Riverses were always good to me and my mom. They had us over for holidays. We were all really close and grew up together. They would have us over for Thanksgiving and stuff. It was just me and her.
“[Doc’s] a normal guy. Obviously, he’s the big name and coach of the Boston Celtics. But he’s just a normal guy. He talks about basketball. He’s a cool guy and really down to earth and from a nice family.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.