After barely escaping a matchup against Washington with a win on Sunday and falling flat against Milwaukee on Tuesday, the Celtics' struggles continued from the get-go against Memphis on Wednesday, as they fell 111-91 at TD Garden.
The C's got in a hole early with a horrendous start in the first quarter and dug themselves deeper and deeper as the game progressed, trying to make up the deficit with bad attempts from long range. After falling victim to a team that had outscored opponents by a total of 114 points in the first quarter this season, Boston failed miserably to make up for it, falling behind by 22 at the intermission and getting outmuscled on the boards 28-14. Nobody on the Celtics roster registered double digits in points in the first half, and they finished with as many turnovers (six) as assists.
Though the C's embarked on a 9-0 run early in the third quarter, the deficit was just too much to put a dent into — and the shots just weren't falling for the cold Celtics offense, which finished the game shooting just 43.8 percent from the floor.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen had 17 points apiece to lead the way for a very cold Celtics squad, while Rasheed Wallace chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Rudy Gay spearheaded the Grizzlies effort with 28 points, while O.J. Mayo chipped in 17 and Mike Conley finished with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Grizzlies 111, Celtics 91
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
March 10, 2010
Headliner: Rudy Gay shot 6-for-12 with 15 points in a decisive first half for the Grizzlies, leading all scorers. The UConn alum put a dagger in a promising 7-0 run by the Celtics at the tail end of the second quarter, punctuating it with a dunk in Rajon Rondo's face that stretched Memphis' lead back out to 19. Gay finished with a game-high 28 points with eight rebounds.
Zach Randolph presented horrible matchup problems for the Celtics from the outset, and it seemed like nobody on Boston's roster could stop him — not Kevin Garnett, not Paul Pierce, not Kendrick Perkins. The Memphis big man, who missed Monday's game against New Jersey with back stiffness, rebounded admirably against the Celtics, finishing with 13 points and 10 boards.
Unsung Hero: Maybe it's asking a little much to expect Rajon Rondo to submit a
double-double every night — which he seemed to be doing recently —
but his first-quarter woes certainly didn't help the Celtics any. The
same night veteran Ray Allen pulled him aside in the locker room and
told him he held the key to Boston's underachieving offense, Rondo shot
1-for-6 from the floor in the first frame, including an extremely ill-advised
3-point attempt that gave away the final possession to the Grizzlies —
which they capitalized on, extending their lead to 15 on a Rudy Gay
jumper with one tick left on the clock.
Somehow, though, Rondo rebounded to have a strong second half, finishing with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting with eight assists and just two turnovers.
Scrub: Wednesday was not Kevin Garnett's night; KG went 3-for-9 from the floor and registered just six points, but he did lead the C's abysmal defensive effort with seven rebounds.
For most of the season, when KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen play well, the Celtics have been able to win handily. But KG has only occasionally looked like his old self since injuring his knee this season, and it seems to be growing increasingly obvious that he is the key to Boston's success.
Key Moment: After losing a game they should've won on Tuesday night at Milwaukee, the last thing the Celtics wanted was to get off on the wrong foot the next night at home — but the first quarter of this one is not one the Celtics would like to remember. Boston allowed Memphis to begin the game with an 11-4 run and sunk just one of its first four shots to tip things off, then watched as the Grizzlies extended the lead to 15 by the end of the frame.
It was Boston's lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. The C's shot a bleak 25 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 15-8. They finished 5-for-20 from the floor and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Up Next: The Celtics welcome the Pacers to town on Friday evening in preparation for a trip to Cleveland on Sunday, part of a ruthless stretch of five games in seven days. Boston will certainly hope that the matchup against the 21-43 Pacers will represent a bit of a tuneup before the real challenge on Sunday.
After dropping four straight, the Pacers managed to snag a win against the Sixers on Tuesday night. Danny Granger currently leads Indiana in scoring with 23.1 points per game and in steals with 1.6. Troy Murphy leads the fifth-place Pacers in rebounds with 9.7 a night.
So far, the two teams have split the season series 1-1.