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Celtics (W) vs Grizzlies (L): 90-88 - 1st Place at the Break!

With Philly losing to Detriot tonight, a Celtic win guaranteed that Boston would spend the All-Star break in 1st place in the Atlantic Division.

The game got out to 6-6 when GP fed Raef and Mike Miller picked up a blocking foul. Blount was running the floor well and got a nice alley-oop pass from GP at the 7:53 mark and the C's now had a 13-9 lead. Tony Allen (TA) hit a 3pter at 6:24. The Grizz took a timeout at 5:03 and the C's were in front with a 18-13 lead. Delonte West was the first rookie pg into the game tonight, entering with 3:00 remaining in the 1st. Raef collected his 2nd foul and Jiri Welsch entered the game. Jiri made an immediate contribution at 1:53 with a drive and score.

Memphis scored 4 quick points, due in part to good defense and transition to get the Grizz to within a bucket at 28-26. Ricky Davis (RD) hit a pull-up jumper with :34 remaining, but Stromile Swift hit 2 FT's at :22 left and the quarter closed with Memphis trailing the C's 29-28.

Notes: Stro and Bonzi both managed to miss easy layups. The Celtic rebounders were leaving early, which was cause for concern.

2nd quarter

Jason Williams (JDub) got a quick steal and score to open the stanza and put the Griz temporarily ahead 32-31 at the 10:40 mark. The Celtics scored just before a TV timeout at 8:53 to take the lead back. Remember the number 32 because the Grizzlies would remain almost 7 minutes at that score.

One of the truly beautiful plays of the game involved Banks passing the ball way up the floor to a released RD. RD then left a behind the back, drop pass for a trailing TA for a poster session dunk at 8:15. PP pushed the ball up the floor to RD for an easy 16fter. RD then repayed the favor with a kickout to PP for a 3pter and with 5:49 left in the half, the Celtics led 40-32. Speaking of pretty plays, PP blocked a Watson drive off the board just before a Memphis timeout at 4:34 and the Celtics continued to lead 42-32.

The Stro Show started to enforce his will and the Grizz got to 46-40 with 1:32 left. At 1:14, just reactivated "Big Al" Jefferson reported into the game and got right into the fray, collecting a defensive rebound as soon as play commenced. RD scored on the other end and with :47 left, the C's were ahead 48-40. After being blocked on the final shot of the 1st quarter, RD got some redemption with :02 left and the C's went into the lockerroom ahead 50-43.

Notes: Stro stayed perfect from the line (8/8). PP hit Big Al with a late pass after a pick and roll that saw Jefferson wide open. PP went towards the bench after Al was fouled on the scoring attempt and told Doc "I missed him". Doc confirmed that he did indeed deliver it late.

At the Half: 50-43 Celtics

The Celts and Grizz traded buckets for the first 4 mins, but the C's kept thier lead near double-digits. A timeout at 5:50 saw the C's up 10 at 62-52. TA had joined the ranks of Celtic players in double digit scoring. During the timeout, TA was seen pulling a Jerry Tarkanian by chewing on a towel. Problem was, when he pulled it away from his mouth, it had a noticeable blood stain. He had apparently taken one for the team. However, if there's any serious dental damage, TA doesn't have to look far for a good recommendation on a dentist.

At 5:21 the Stro Show went down with a rolled ankle, after coming down on GP's foot. To add insult to injury, as he went to the floor, Blount managed to kick him the head as he was trying to score on the rebound. At 3:45 Blount continued his nice passing game with a dump pass to a cutting GP and the C's had a 66-57 lead. Unfortunately, only seconds later Blount picked up his 4th foul.

Raef got a technical foul at 2:46 after arguing a questionable foul. He was livid, to say the least. After all the FT's were tolled, the Grizzlies were on a 8-0 run and only trailed 66-62. At 1:55 Googs drove to the hole and dished to a waiting Perk. The Perk-o-Later then pump faked 2 Grizzlies defenders and did what the Perk-o-Later does best: Bring that nasty 2 handed funk. However, as was somewhat of a trend tonight for just about everyone at some point, Perk manage to have a good play and bad play in close proximity. Perks offense was committing an offensive foul away from the ball with 1:03.

Paul Pierce got T'ed up on the following offensive possession after being called for an offensive foul, that by all accounts saw him the victim of another Battier arm hook. Doc now had 2 starters on the bench cooling off and it's safe to say that Game Official Mark Wonderlich won't be getting any Xmas cards from the Celtics anytime soon. (I don't like bashing officials, but this guy had very questionable calls against the C's both before and after this. Now that I'm done being subtle, IMO, the guy made some horrible calls and seemed biased against the C's for some reason.)

At the end of 3: Celtics lead 72-66

The 4th opened with Perk working hard on the boards and getting to the line for his effort. In a slightly comedic "pay attention dammit" moment, Perk hit Banks in the head with an inbounds play as Banks was apparently talking to someone down the floor and not moving at the pace Kendrick wanted. I like this kid more and more everyday. A Googs FT at 10:02 saw the C's leading 75-70.

Grizzlies sniper Mike Miller hit another 3pter and tied the game at 75 ALL with 8:10 left to go. PP reported back into the game. Big Al got into the scoring column with 2FT's at 7:54 and the C's retook the lead at 77-75. Another 3pter by the Grizz put them out front at 78-77. PP then scored on an offensive rebound and was fouled. After the traditional 3pt play, it's 80-78 with 7:18 remaining in the contest. On a similar play, TA came over the top of a crowd from the weakside for a nice follow-up dunk. TA then got to the line after a strong, weaving drive. At the 5:33 mark, the C's were in the midst of a 7-0 run and now up 84-78.

GP continued to work over defender they put in front of him, getting to the line with 3:33 left and the C's in front 87-80. JDub got the Grizz closer with a 3pter at 1:49 and now the C's clung to a 2pt lead at 87-85. At :16.3 left, GP missed the front end of a trip to the line and it was 88-85.

Here's one of those times where rookies screw up. On the ensuing play, Banks cheated off Mike Miller to help double team the ball and in the few short seconds it took him to get back to him, Miller had all the room he needed to drain a game tieing 3pter with :09.8 left. Yes, Miller shot it from easily 5ft behind the arc, but the principle remains the same, particularly coming out of a timeout. I cannot imagine Doc giving any instructions to the team that didn't include "STAY TO HOME ON YOUR MAN".

Game tied at 88 ALL. Luckily for the C's, RD got the ball and managed to get open with a pump fake and drained a 17fter with :03.9 and the C's hang on for a 90-88 win.

Final Score: 90 - 88 Celtics

Player of the Game: Showdown!

Ricky Davis: 12/3/3 Not exemplary numbers for RD, but the game winner certainly is going to carry some weight.

Tony Allen: 15/7/2 Break out game for TA with several highlight dunks. Me thinks the "Got Milk" Rookie/Sophomore game might just be worth watching this year.

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