Ford Keys to the Game

Grizzlies 90, Celtics 87

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Tony Allen, Paul Pierce

Tony Allen, who returned to the Garden for the first time as a visitor after departing Boston as a free agent this summer, celebrated his new team's win in front of Paul Pierce as time expires.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The Celtics had four opportunities in the final 89 seconds of tonight's game to tie, cut Memphis' lead down to one or actually take the lead. They took advantage of one of those opportunities, but as tonight's 90-87 score in favor of the Grizzlies would indicate, that just wasn't enough.

First came a possession that began with 1:29 remaining in the game and the C's trailing by one. Doc Rivers had just whistled for a timeout to draw up a play, because he knew this possession held quite a bit of significance. Instead of executing Rivers' scripted play, however, Ray Allen turned the ball over just nine seconds out of the timeout and Memphis gained possession off of the Marc Gasol steal.

Gasol quickly went on to complete his coast-to-coast play when he finished a layup at the other end of the court that was assisted by Mike Conley. That bucket put the C's in a three-point hole with 1:02 left on the clock, but they quickly answered back with a jumper from Glen Davis on the perimeter that cut the lead back down to one.

That was the end of Boston's positive execution.

They got a stop at the other end when Zach Randolph missed a 15-foot jumper, but when Rajon Rondo took the ball down court in transition he made his most critical mistake of the game. Instead of passing the ball off to one of the team's best shooters, which Rivers believed he would do, he surveyed the court on the break and then chose to toss up a quick running floater with nearly 20 seconds left in the game - and about 17 seconds remaining on the shot clock. That was Boston's best opportunity to take the lead and put the pressure on Memphis, but Rondo's miss squandered that chance.

Conley went on to be fouled by Rondo just seconds later, and he made both of his free throws to put the Grizzlies back on top by three with 13.2 seconds remaining in regulation. That's still plenty of time to tie the game up and send it to overtime, or even win in regulation, but the C's couldn't make any of those happen.

Rivers called another timeout and drew up a play that had three options. The first two were to get Ray Allen or Paul Pierce an open look at a 3-pointer. The final option was to drive to the basket and get a quick basket that would cut the deficit down to one and extend the game. None of those options were explored, as Glen Davis took the inbounds pass and fired up an ill-advised 3-pointer that grazed off of the front of the rim with less than five seconds remaining in the game. Gasol grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled.

At that point, the Garden began to empty as everyone assumed the game was over. Gasol, however, couldn't put the game on ice and came up empty on both free throw attempts, again giving the Celtics a shot at tying the game.

After their final timeout of the contest was called, the Celtics inbounded the ball to Paul Pierce and let him go to work at the top of the key on his defender, Shane Battier. Pierce gave a series of moves about 30 feet from the basket and finally stepped into a 3-pointer from 27 feet away that was released just ahead of the buzzer. Like the rest of Boston's opportunities, though, this one wasn't capitalized on and Pierce's shot just missed. With that, the C's were dealt a brutal loss at home that prompted Rivers to call his team's execution in crunch time "awful."

Key Box Score Line

Rajon Rondo is officially out of his statistical slump, and he proved that tonight with his all around effort that nearly gave him a quadruple-double. Though the point guard shot just 2-of-12 from the field, he filled up the box score by scoring six points, tying for the game high with 11 rebounds, dishing out a game-high 11 assists and grabbing a game-high seven steals. That's a lot of game highs, no?

It has been said that as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics, and that was certainly the case tonight. While he was going good, Boston was able to dictate the pace of this game and hold onto a lead. While he was going bad, that lead slipped away and the team eventually suffered a loss after one of his poorest decisions. But despite that defeat, the man's stat line is undeniably fantastic. Not many players can push a quadruple on any night, particularly one in which they shoot so poorly. He was able to put those shooting woes aside and attack the game in every other possible way, and that's what helped the C's take a step back in the direction of competing for 48 minutes rather than just the second half.

Box Score Nuggets

  • The Celtics scored a combined 55 points in the middle quarters, but only 32 total points in the opening and closing quarters combined.
  • Paul Pierce scored a game-high 22 points and also grabbed six rebounds. He shot 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
  • Both of the game's double-doubles were recorded via the number 11: Rajon Rondo tallied 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and Marc Gasol finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
  • The Celtics shot only 42.0 percent in the game.
  • Boston was doubled up in points in the paint by a count of 52-26.
  • Rondo's 11 assists were a game high.
  • Memphis outscored Boston 16-3 in second-chance points, thanks to 11 offensive rebounds.
  • Five bench players scored in double-figures, and five starters scored in single-figures.
  • Leon Powe and Zach Randolph tied for the team-high in scoring for Memphis, with 13 points apiece.
  • Rondo approached a quadruple-double with six points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and a game-high seven steals.
  • The Celtics did not block a shot in the game.
  • Four Grizzlies players grabbed at least seven rebounds, while Rondo was the only Celtic to accomplish that feat.
  • Seven of Ray Allen's 10 shot attempts were 3-pointers.
  • Memphis scored 23 points in both the third and fourth quarter.
  • Boston attempted only 69 shots in the game.
  • Eight Memphis players scored between eight and 13 points.
  • Boston shot 22-of-23 from the free-throw line.
  • Rondo shot just 2-of-12 from the field.
  • Gasol and Shane Battier each tallied three steals apiece for the Grizzlies.
  • Four Memphis players made exactly five field goals.
  • Four of the six Grizzlies who committed a turnover finished with two.
  • Nenad Krstic and Glen Davis each finished with five fouls. No other Celtic had more than two.
  • Davis came off the bench to score 12 points.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on if the team's offensive issues start with Rajon Rondo: "No, it starts with Doc Rivers."