|Hollins: C’s still ‘one of top 3 in East’||03.11.10 at 1:16 am ET|
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t about to let his suffer the same fate as the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
After his team blew a 13-point lead in the final six minutes, only to lose to Boston, 86-83, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said his team relieved itself collectively down its leg.
Hollins knew with his young, energetic team well rested in Boston while the Celtics were battling Milwaukee half a continent away 24 hours earlier, his team would have a decided advantage and likely jump out to a quick, big lead.
Hollins was prophetic. The Grizzlies raced out to a 27-12 lead after one and 55-33 at halftime.
And when the Celtics rallied to get within 12 in the third quarter he reminded his team what was at stake during a succession of timeouts.
‘I was telling them to keep being aggressive,” Hollins said. “I watched the Washington Wizards come in here the other noght and literally beat the Celtics up for three and half quarters and then quit playing and the Celtics came back and won the game.
“I told them whatever happens, whatever run, we’ll call timeout and try to stem the run but when we go back out there we’re gonna be aggressive. We kept throwing the ball up the court and attacking the. We had two or three quick 1-2 passes then a layup after they scored which kind of took the start to them and also took the crowd out of the game.’
While a respectable 34-31, the Grizzlies are still on the outside looking in, trying to catch Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s a big win, and we’re happy with the win, but we know we caught the Celtics on a down night,” Hollins said. “They played back to back, had to travel home, had a tough game [Tuesday] night in Milwaukee. They’re still, in my mind, one of the top three teams in the East and they’re going to show that as they go forward into the playoffs. But we’re just happy to get a win and we’re excited to have 34 wins and be three games over .500.
‘We talked about making some noise, we beat a lot of good teams during the course of this season and this the first big road win though against one of the top teams in the league and we caught a break so that helped us but we’ll take it. That’s the way the NBA is and that just takes us further and closer to our goal.’
|Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies||03.10.10 at 9:28 pm ET|
The best thing the Celtics can say about the third quarter is they scored 30 points after scoring just 33 the previous 24 minutes. The problem is they’re not stopping Memphis, who maintained their comfortable lead at 82-63 heading into the fourth.
Earlier in the quarter, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to cut the Memphis lead from 21 to 12 but the Celtics could get no closer.
The Celtics are still getting hammered on the glass (40-23) while shooting only marginally better in the third quarter, raising their percentage to 42 for the game.
Rondo had seven points in the quarter and leads the Green with 16. A pair of former UConn Huskies are making their presence known. Rudy Gay has a game-high 17 after three and Marcus Williams hit a key 3-pointer and leads the Grizzlies bench with 10.
|Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Grizzlies||at 8:45 pm ET|
The Celtics continued to play like a team that was exhausted from playing halfway across the country 24 hours earlier. The TD Garden didn’t take any sympathy on them, as they showered them with boos coming off the court.
Memphis took a 55-33 lead to the locker room, matching their largest advantage of the game. One fan even urged Kevin Garnett to “Wake up!” as Garnett missed all three shots and finished with no points in 16 minutes. But that plea could go for the entire team, which allowed Memphis to make 53.3 percent of their shots while shooting just 39 percent themselves.
But in a game where the younger Grizzlies are clearly showing their superior energy, the biggest margin is on the glass where Memphis is doubling up Boston, 28-14.
The 33 points is a low for the Celtics in the first half this season and the 22-point hole is their biggest at halftime this season.
As the Celtics continued to struggle, looking for any spark at all, coach Doc Rivers stayed with his second unit for the first six minutes of the second quarter.
|Pacquiao fights for the Celtics||at 7:15 pm ET|
Prior to Wednesday’s game with Memphis, many of the Celtics had a special motivational gift waiting for them in their lockers.
Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, sent several red autographed boxing gloves to the Celtics as a measure of gratitude for being bestowed an honorary member of the Celtics, according to Phillipines news report.
“There’s no message, no message,” insisted Celtics coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday’s game.
“It honestly wasn’t from me,” Rivers added. “Pacquiao is obviously a huge Celtics fan and he tried to get to our walk-through in the hotel ballroom before we played the Lakers [in Los Angeles] so he just sent that to us. That’s nice. It’s a good gesture.”
Asked if he hopes his players make use of the gloves, Rivers quipped, “No, not on each other.”
The relationship between Pacquiao and the Celtics grew closer in 2008 when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo watched him capture the World Boxing Council lightweight title from David Diaz and then congratulated him afterward.
|Garnett: Ray is playing ‘beautiful basketball’||03.08.10 at 1:02 pm ET|
Ray Allen’s clutch performance on Sunday night was a thing of beauty – to fans and teammates alike.
‘A huge weapon,” Garnett said. “You know him and P [Paul Pierce] can put up a lot of points in a hurry. That’s big. We have to get them open. You know our job is to get them open. I thought that once he got into a nice, little rhythm, I think that everyone else, you know fed off of that a little bit. When it was time to really get him opened for the three, we got him open, and he hit a big shot.’
Garnett has seen Allen suddenly get hot after the All-Star break, carrying the Celtics offense while Pierce nursed a sore thumb.
‘I can just say that each player has their time where they play up and down,” Garnett said. “That is the nature of the season. You know, you guys don’t know but he deals with a lot of different things with injuries, you know we all deal with different types of physical stuff. He is no different than that. At the same time he had talks of business, about where he was going to be in his future and stuff. I can just tell that he is a lot more healthier. Everything that he is doing is a lot more fluid. He is not thinking a lot, he is just reacting and his beautiful basketball.’
Paul Pierce had a slightly different take.
While happy with the win, Pierce realizes the team should have had that intensity all along against a Washington team that has just 21 wins this season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Flip: ‘We choked’ against Celtics||at 2:04 am ET|
With all apologizes to Jim Croce, Saunders, now the head coach of the Wizards, knows you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t tick off the Big Ticket.
The last part of that equation was especially troublesome in Saunders’ eyes as he watched his Wizards blow a 79-66 lead with just over six minutes to go Sunday night.
‘Well, we choked,” Saunders began. “Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We’ve got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.
“You have a veteran team that knows how to close out games against a young team that hasn’t been there, and instead of just letting a sleeping dog lie, we juiced up their energies. We had plays coming off timeouts and we had guys going to the wrong side of the floor, we were so discombobulated.’
|Ray: We probably got away with one||at 12:20 am ET|
Ray Allen felt comfortable all night.
With a game-high 25 points and 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, the stats say as much.
The problem was ‘ for 42 minutes ‘ the Washington Wizards felt just as good in nearly everything they did.
With the Celtics down 13 points, that’s when Allen said the C’s finally got to their opponent, opening the door for him to play hero in the final 93 seconds.
‘It was night and day. We put a lot of pressure on them. We made them play away from the basket. We forced them to be more uncomfortable than we did in the first half,” said Allen, whose trey with 17.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Boston’s 86-83 win.
Asked if the Celtics might have gotten away with a win when maybe they didn’t deserve one, Allen was as honest as he could be.
‘You could say probably in a small way we did,” he admitted. “But we fought for it, we never gave up or thought it was over with, so it bowed in our favor tonight.’