New England would be heartbroken in the region's biggest game of the day, but Sunday had gotten off to a good start in Boston as the Celtics handled the Memphis Grizzlies 98-80 in a matinee at TD Banknorth Garden. Kevin Garnett led the C's with 24 points on 9-12 shooting with nine rebounds. Paul Pierce added 21 more and needs just 10 points to pass Larry Bird and become Boston's No. 2 scorer of all-time. (John Havlicek, No. 1, is likely uncatchable at 5,000 points ahead of Pierce.)
Boston carried a decent lead throughout the game, but didn't really open up matters until the fourth, when a time-killing 15-3 run by the Celtics finished off Memphis, which was playing without Tony Allen. Pierce was the primary scorer in that stretch, racking up 10 points in fewer than five minutes.
Perhaps the best part of Garnett's performance was a made three in the second half. He was asked about it in the post-game, and of course he delivered a rant about it. Via CelticsBlog, Jessica Camerato has the quotes:
Listen, I can shoot 3's. Cut this, alright? Because I don't want anymore questions about this. I can shoot 3's. You all are acting like I'm 50 and I'm out here on one leg.
When I walk around the streets, you all can stop acting like you're shocked that I can shoot 3's. Everybody in Boston, everybody in the world, everybody in Minnesota, LA, wherever I'm at, Concord, Lexington, Burlington. I can shoot 3's. Let that go. I can shoot 3's.
It goes on, of course.
Straight Outta Vancouver expresses frustration at Memphis' ability to extend runs and defend the three-point line.
The Grizzlies failed to defend the 3-point line, and Boston made them pay. It got to the point where mid-way through the 2nd-quarter, anytime they shot from 3, I assumed it was going in. Tony Allen sat out tonight's match, but we really needed him. If nothing else, maybe he could've got a hand in someone's face. Memphis actually made several nice runs to cut down the lead, but the Celtics answered every one of them with a barrage of 3's. The most memorable came early in the 4th, when the Grizzlies cut down the lead to 6 only to see the Celtics get the lead back up to 13 in less than 2 minutes.
Boston is now 13-10, just 1.5 games behind Orlando for the East's No. 6 seed. Memphis falls to 12-12, 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the West.