Tsakalidis Leads Grizzlies Past Celtics
Memphis 93, Boston 76
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 14 (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies unleashed the new and improved Jake Tsakalidis on the Boston Celtics.
Tsakalidis continued his remarkable play with season highs of 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Grizzlies overwhelmed the Celtics, 93-76, and ended a two-game slide.
A 7-2 center whose lack of mobility has limited his playing time since entering the NBA in 2000, Tsakalidis continued the best stretch of his career with his third double-double in four games. He is averaging 15.5 points and 12.3 rebounds during that stretch.
"I know I'm going to play now. That's the difference," Tsakalidis said. "The first 50 games when I was sitting the bench, I never knew when coach was going to call my name. Now, the more and more minutes I get, the more confident I get."
Tsakalidis wasted no time getting started Tuesday, scoring 12 points in the first quarter to help the Grizzlies open a 23-16 lead. Muscling his way inside and making mid-range jumpers, he was too much for Celtics centers Raef LaFrentz and Kendrick Perkins.
"We were trying to follow our schemes all night but we left Tsakalidis alone and that came back to bite us," Lafrentz said. "He really hurt us tonight."
"They made it hard for us all night around the basket," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm getting my All-Star ballot back and putting Jake on it. He was terrific."
After going scoreless for the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, Memphis widened its lead to 50-34 at halftime. Boston repeatedly settled for jump shots and did not attack the basket, shooting just four free throws in the first half.
The Celtics made a season-low 13 trips to the line compared to 34 by the Grizzlies.
"Our game plan was to attack the basket because they really don't have a lot of shot-blockers in there, but we settled the whole night," Rivers said. "It was our fault. I thought the refs did a great job but you know, they're a jump-shooting team and they drove the ball. We're more of a mid-post team and we settled for jump shots."
The Celtics trailed by as many as 22 points late in the third quarter but closed to 77-67 on a 3-pointer by Brian Scalabrine that capped a 13-2 spurt with 6:09 remaining. Atkins responded with a 3-pointer and Tsakalidis hammered home a follow dunk to put the game out of reach.
Tsakalidis grabbed six rebounds in the fouth quarter, which equaled the combined total of LaFrentz and Perkins for the entire game.
"I'm just trying to be strong around the basket," Tsakalidis said. "My job is to play defense. It's fun for me playing defense. When I go into the game I know I have to help guys play defense and get rebounds. If I score, I score."
The defense also did a solid job of limiting the touches of Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce, who scored 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting and committed five turnovers. It was the first time in 17 games since February 3 that Pierce was held below 20 points.
"They are a good defensive team," Pierce said. "They forced us to shoot jump shots all night. They put a lot of pressure on us, and it seemed like we just didn't know what to do."
Eddie Jones and Pau Gasol scored 13 points each for Memphis, which avenged a one-point loss at the buzzer at Boston earlier this season. The Grizzlies also held a 41-27 advantage on the glass and made 8-of-14 shots from behind the 3-point lines.
Wally Szczerbiak scored 18 points for Boston (27-37), which shot 38 percent (28-of-74). It began a critical four-game road trip by falling 4 1/2 games behind Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.