Toni! Toni! Tony!
Memphis 90, Boston 87
Boston got down early, but came storming back only to go out like a lamb. Memphis was more active, but tonight you really felt like the Celtics let one slip away. Sure, there were some 'gimme' baskets in the paint from Boston, and some ill-advised shots taken (C's shot only 42% on the night), but this was a game you really thought Boston was going to take home, especially after the way they closed out the second half.
While Memphis should be the story, as they did 'win the game', and former Celtics Leon Powe and Tony Allen both managed to make significant impacts on the game (Tony Allen was tenacious on defense as usual, and Leon Powe should be the player of the game, as he just couldn't miss tonight), but the Celtics should've been the better team tonight, and just let this one slip away.
It had all the hallmarks of a win. Rajon Rondo had a great game until the fourth quarter (not that he was really that bad in the fourth, but in the first three quarters he was the best player on the floor), Paul Pierce had a heroic second half, Ray Allen was making timely three-pointers, and the Celtics seemed like they were getting more than their share of loose balls. And there was a point in the fourth, where Paul Pierce hit an and-1 with 3:35 left, then followed it up with a three-pointer to score six straight points where everyone just kind of breathed and thought, 'its gonna be okay'.
But, like 'I Know What You're Doin'' by Dionne Farris, this is a song we've heard before. The Celtics' jumpshots down the stretch weren't falling (hallmark one of a Celtics loss), the Celtics were out rebounded, especially when it counted (43-37, Memphis, and somehow Memphis got BOTH of Tony Allen's airballs in the 4th), and the more athletic team with the fresher (by age only, the Celtics bench played significant minutes tonight) legs won.
The final nail in the coffin is interior defense. While Nenad Krstic was about as solid as silly putty, the Celtics as a whole let the Grizzlies do a whole lot of damage down low. The boys were working hard, but weren't working smart, and so the likes of the unimpeachable Leon Powe and the more impeachable Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Darrell Arthur all managed doubt digits tonight. Nobody on Memphis's roster managed more than 13 points tonight, but they didn't need a heroic effort tonight...they needed a team effort and they got one.
In the end the Celtics were a little too sloppy (20 turnovers), a little too slow on defense, and a little too inaccurate on their jumpers. Plus, that possession at the end where Rondo thought his best option was a Glen Davis 3pt shot just about broke my little heart.