I don’t know whether December is bringing out the holiday spirit in the Boston Celtics, or they are preparing to throw just about everyone but the ball boy at opponents come playoff time.
Keeping with the emerging theme of the multi-headed monster that the Celtics are becoming, it was truly an ensemble win.
In one way, it was like watching Cheers or The Office. The Celtics’ entire cast of players went to work and everyone knew their lines.
Perhaps a better analogy might be an ensemble chorus. It was multi-part harmony with a few solos at it’s best and a surprise finale. Rajon Rondo conducted the choir, and sang a little solo himself. Kevin Garnett delivered his refrain from down low and on high. Kendrick Perkins brought the bass. At the very end, Paul Pierce harmonized down low with Ray Allen hitting the surprise final high note to send the Celtics home winners….of 11 straight games.
A close game throughout, leads mostly hovered around 1-3 points until the final quarter. The Celtics built an 8 point lead with 2:47 left, but couldn’t maintain that either.
In the final minute, after screening Rudy Gay off, Paul Pierce made a driving lay-up on the right over the smaller Mike Conley, giving the Celtics a 4 point lead at 107-103. O.J. Mayo followed that with a jump shot to close back within 107-105. Ray Allen picked up a deflected Pierce pass, rolled to the left top of the arc and drilled his 5th three pointer of the game to seal the win 110-105 with 17 seconds left.
With Grizzlies defense lacking and the Celtics defense perhaps a bit tired, it was a game of shot making for both teams.
On top of that, by matching the Grizzlies in offensive rebounding (11 each) and overall board (36 each) work, this Celtic team showed they can do it when they want to.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce found their three point groove with 8 of 9 from downtown combined.
Contributions by all
This is getting ridiculous. The last 5 Celtic baskets were scored by each of the 5 starters. No one scored twenty points but three players had at least 18.
Led by Paul Pierce’s 19 points (Pierce went 3-3 from the arc and had 6 assists, a steal and two blocks), six Celtics scored in double figures with Eddie House just missing with 9 points.
Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 9 assists. It might be getting to be time for the rest of the league to fear their worst nightmare. Rondo is starting to hit jumpers now as well as his free throws. He was 2-3 in this game and 12 for 16 over the last 4 games at the free throw line.
Ray Allen looked particularly comfortable out there shooting in this contest, especially at the arc. With 5 of 6 three pointers drawing nothing but net, Ray added 18 points to go with 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
Kevin Garnett continues to play a fat free game with 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting, adding a team leading 8 rebounds.
Kendrick Perkins got called for a few ticky tack fouls and fouled out with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Rasheed Wallace abused his former Trailblazer teammate, Zach Randolph, around the hoop for most of his 15 points, while adding 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Called the trap game, the final game of a road trip can be the one that gets away. The Celtics didn’t play their best, but they played well enough to grab control early in the 4th quarter and never let go.
To Memphis’ credit, they continued to make shots and stay close, keeping the game undecided until the final seconds. With the Celtics shooting .525% from the field and the Grizzlies hitting at .512, both teams’ offenses were clicking.
Not the strongest example of Celtics’ defense we have ever seen, it was an excellent demonstration of a Celtic offense that had Rajon Rondo’s fingerprints all over it. Rajon continues to blossom offensively, logging the most shot attempts of any starter for the 3rd straight game.
With the long term contract with the Celtics now done and put away, we are seeing the future of the Celtics’ organization assume his place among the previously called Big Three. The ascension is appearing to be a smooth one. That these three future hall of famers are accepting that subtle but real change is amazing to watch. It is almost seamless.
Shelden Williams played an aggressive board game, fighting for 5 rebounds in 12 minutes. More important, he had 4 offensive boards and set a few nice picks.
Eddie House was only 1-4 from the three point line but 3-3 from inside the arc and the team was +3 while he was on the court.
Speaking of plus/minuses….
Mike Conley, Memphis’ young point guard was –12 in 34:51 on the floor. New acquired Jamal Tinsley was +7 in exactly 13:09 minutes of playing time. Combined they were –5, the difference in the game. The times combined equal exactly 48 minutes, meaning that the two were subbed for each other and were never on the court at the same time. While Jamal probably came in against the Celtics second unit, the difference is noted.
For 47 minutes and 43 seconds it was a very competitive game against a talented young Grizzlies team. After getting the Great Allen Iverson Scare out of their systems, the Grizzlies have gone 9-5 over their last 14 games with wins over the Cavaliers, Mavericks and Trailblazers.
The Memphis team drops to 10-14 overall, while the Celtics move to 20-4 for the most wins and best record on the NBA.
After going off for 17 first half points, Rudy Gay finished with 23, but hit only 3 of 9 in the second half. At one point, he took and missed three straight shots in a single offensive series, with the last shot, a three point attempt, catching air.
The Grizzlies had 6 players in double figures as well. Former UConn star, Hasheem Thabeet, actually looked like a basketball player who is making great strides in learning the game while he was on the court. Tinsley has taken him under his wing and they will often play at the same time. He had 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in just 18 plus minutes.
Doc Rivers said that rookie point guard Lester Hudson is being optioned to the Maine Red Claws, their D-league affiliate for a few weeks.
An older rookie at 25 years old, Hudson has shown a solid offensive game in short appearances, but needs the minutes to improve and see if he can contribute something to the team in the second half of the season. Good move.
The Celtics are now a league leading 12-1 on the road. The NBA record is 31-7 by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Grizzlies are the best points in the paint NBA team at 50 per game. They had 52 in this game. The Celtics had 46.
Points off Turnovers:
15 each team
Second Chance Points:
The Celtics return home for a long stretch of days off before playing Friday night in Boston against the 76ers with Allen Iverson back with them.