The C's thoroughly outplay the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime, coming away with a 116-110 victory in a hard-fought game at the FedEx Forum. This team had a knack for withering away in crunch time last season; this year, they're having none of it. These Celtics come through in crunch time.
Paul Pierce is the star of the night for Boston, finishing with 28 points, four assists, three rebounds, a block and a steal. Shaquille O'Neal contributes a season-high 18 points of his own, and Rajon Rondo is his usual self with 17 assists.
Zach Randolph gives a valiant effort in defeat — a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies' first option in crunch time, finishes with 22 points.
Overtime, 27.6 seconds, Celtics 116-108: The Celtics have now scored 17 points in one five-minute overtime period. Forget about it. This one's over.
Overtime, 48.9 seconds, Celtics 112-104: Mike Conley knocks down a 3 to keep the Grizzlies competitive, but the C's make the right move from there — they get the ball to Ray Allen. The Grizz are forced to foul him, and of course, Ray can't miss from the free-throw line.
The Grizzlies are really running out of time now.
Overtime, 59.4 seconds, Celtics 110-101: That's just unbridled thuggery from Zach Randolph, who shoves Kevin Garnett to the ground and then stands over him. It's a Flagrant 1.
KG gets two shots and drains them both. The Celtics have a nine-point lead and the ball.
This one's pretty much over, folks. And Z-Bo's idiocy isn't helping the Grizzlies one bit.
Overtime, 1:36, Celtics 108-101: Kevin Garnett looks more relaxed now, and his shot is falling. The C's are rolling now.
Overtime, 2:06, Celtics 106-99: The Celtics are dominating this overtime period. Just dominating. Rajon Rondo's elbow jumper falls, and it's a seven-point lead for the C's. Memphis has yet to score.
The only play the Grizzlies are calling is "isolate Rudy Gay and pray." That's not good enough to beat these Celtics. They're locked in right now.
Overtime, 3:24, Celtics 104-99: Ray Allen for three. That is absolutely huge. The Celtics have a five-point lead.
Overtime, 3:43, Celtics 101-99: The Celtics have the upper hand early in the extra session. Memphis' offense might be starting to run out of steam.
End of fourth quarter, 99-99: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome (back) to overtime. For the third time in 10 games this season, 48 minutes isn't enough for these Celtics.
The C's isolate Paul Pierce for the final possession, and he gets nothing. Rudy Gay suffocates him, and he doesn't even get a shot off as the final buzzer sounds. A pathetic attempt at a game-winner for Boston.
Let's play five more.
Fourth quarter, 7.3 seconds, 99-99: The Grizzlies have fought back to tie it. An incredible stop on the defensive end, forcing a shot clock violation as Rajon Rondo runs out of time, and Rudy Gay comes right back and nails a running jumper in the lane. We're all square at 99.
All right, Doc — who gets the last shot this time? On Monday in Dallas, it was Rajon Rondo. It didn't work last time. It probably won't do the trick here, either.
Fourth quarter, 55.0 seconds, Celtics 99-95: That's a really costly turnover from Mike Conley and a really big jumper from Ray Allen. The C's are now up four.
Remember: $45 million. The Grizzlies just paid Conley $45 million.
Fourth quarter, 1:17, Celtics 97-95: Kevin Garnett is getting good looks from fairly near the basket, but they're just not falling.
Mike Conley has come up with a huge defensive rebound.
Timeout Memphis. The Grizzlies have the ball and a chance to tie the game with just over one minute to play.
Fourth quarter, 1:41, Celtics 97-95: Tony Allen artfully draws a two-shot foul from former teammate Ray Allen. He gets to the stripe and hits one of two.
That guy has been huge down the stretch. The C's never saw it coming.
Fourth quarter, 2:11, Celtics 97-94: Finally, the Celtics are starting to string some stops together. They have the lead and the ball with just over two minutes to play.
Doc Rivers has called for a timeout. The C's need a couple more solid possessions before they can breathe easy. Now is no time for overconfidence — we've seen this team blow way too many late leads.
Fourth quarter, 3:55, Celtics 95-92: The C's have come alive. Back-to-back 3s, one from Ray Allen and one from Paul Pierce, put them back in front. They're in the driver's seat now.
The C's can't get cocky about settling for jump shots, though. They've got to keep moving the ball and keep creating good looks for teammates. There's a lot of game left.
Fourth quarter, 4:57, Grizzlies 92-89: Tony Allen runs the break and gets Rudy Gay a chance to finish at the rim. He's playing great down the stretch for Memphis. Who'd have thunk it?
Fourth quarter, 5:52, Grizzlies 88-87: Greivis Vasquez is just killing it. A big running jumper here puts the Grizz back in front.
This Memphis team has a lot to like. Depth, youth, athleticism. These are the strengths you need against a veteran Celtics team that's exhausted at the end of a weeklong road trip.
Fourth quarter, 6:44, Grizzlies 86-85: Ray Allen gives the Celtics a lead with his first 3 of the game, but Rudy Gay quickly answers.
Just trading jumpers won't be enough against these Grizzlies, who are loaded with sharpshooters. The C's have to string some stops together here.
Fourth quarter, 8:17, Celtics 82-80: Shaquille O'Neal now has 18 points. That's a season high.
He also has five fouls. So is that.
Doc Rivers will probably pull Shaq out here and save him for the final minutes. He could be a major difference-maker in crunch time against these Grizzlies, who look really overmatched in the low post.
Fourth quarter, 9:07, 80-80: Tony Allen just grabbed two steals in about 12 seconds. He draws a foul in transition, gets to the line and hits two free throws.
T.A. might be the spark these Grizzlies need to stay competitive to the very end.
Fourth quarter, 10:59, Celtics 77-75: Two positive developments already for the Celtics in this fourth quarter: Shaquille O'Neal is making free throws, and Nate Robinson is slashing instead of settling for jump shots.
The C's could be in for a good finish to their road trip.
End of third quarter, 73-73: Greivis Vasquez is a rookie. He's a No. 28 draft pick. He's a bench scrub.
But he's also wreaking havoc and helping the Grizzlies make this into a game. A 3 here, a deflection there, then a key defensive rebound — the Grizz have tied the game, and now the final 12 minutes will decide everything.
The Celtics had better hope their veterans rise to the occasion and close this road trip out right.
Third quarter, 2:56, Celtics 72-66: The Grizzlies get as close as two at 68-66, but the Celtics push back with mid-range jumpers from Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett. The lead goes back to six.
It's encouraging to see the shots fall, but what's even more encouraging is the ball movement. Even as the Celtics get tired in the second half, their crisp passing doesn't go away. That will be key down the stretch.
Third quarter, 5:39, Celtics 68-64: The Grizzlies aren't going away. Mayo has six points in the third quarter; Randolph and Gasol have four each. The Grizz keep hitting their shots.
The C's have their crunch-time lineup on the floor in the third quarter, featuring Big Baby along with the four starters. They want to bury the Grizzlies now.
Third quarter, 8:03, Celtics 62-58: O.J. Mayo has quietly come to life for the Grizzlies here in the third quarter. He's now got 10 points.
The Grizz need Mayo and Rudy Gay to shine down the stretch. The Celtics are too big and too physical inside, so the shooters have to carry the load.
Third quarter, 10:26, Celtics 58-54: The Grizzlies are hitting their jumpers to open this second half. If O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay keep knocking down shots, this game will be close down to the wire.
Shaquille O'Neal is now off the floor with four fouls. The C's will want to save Shaq for crunch time if they can. He's been dominant in this matchup.
Halftime, Celtics 54-49: The Celtics are winning the war inside against the Memphis Grizzlies. They're winning the game, too.
Shaquille O'Neal is the hero of the first half for the Celtics, leading the way with 14 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal. Thanks to their dominance inside, the C's are shooting over 60 percent so far against the Grizzlies — if that keeps up, forget about it. They're finishing this road trip with a win.
Zach Randolph is leading the way so far for Memphis, supplying 14 points and three rebounds.
Second quarter, 2:42, Celtics 52-43: Glen Davis takes his 679th charge of the season, this time from Zach Randolph. (That's an unofficial count. Close enough.)
The C's need Big Baby on both ends of the floor if they want to maintain their edge in points in the paint. So far, pounding the ball down low and scoring has been a huge key for both teams.
Boston and Memphis are both loaded with talented jump shooters, but they're not using them. Take Ray Allen for example — he has only two points.
Second quarter, 4:06, Celtics 48-39: The Celtics are up nine, and they're having fun with it.
Rondo finds Shaq for the alley-oop. Pierce drives the lane and wreaks havoc. The Grizzlies are having a sluggish quarter offensively, and the C's are capitalizing. They're having a field day.
Shaq now has 12 points, a new Celtic high for him. And he's far from done.
Second quarter, 6:34, Celtics 42-33: That makes a 15-4 run for the C's in this second quarter, and a 10-point performance from Nate Robinson off the bench.
Nate went off for a season-high 12 against the Heat on Thursday, and now he's in double digits for the second time.
That shooting slump is over, folks.
Second quarter, 8:01, Celtics 36-31: So much for the Grizzlies leading this thing. That's a 9-0 Boston run with the second unit on the floor.
To be precise, it's Shaq, Rajon Rondo and three backups. On the last night of a long road trip, Doc is letting his Big Three get a little rest.
If the Celtics can continue to push this lead while letting their starters stay rested, it'll be really impressive.
Second quarter, 9:30, Celtics 32-29: Nate Robinson's showing that if you just keep chucking, they'll eventually start going in. He's now made two of his four attempts from 3-point land, and the C's are back in front.
Nate sparks a 5-0 run for the Celtics, forcing the Grizzlies to call a timeout and regroup. But still, it's surely discouraging for Doc Rivers to see his backup shooting guard throw a wrench in the team's ball movement. It's a double-edged sword.
Second quarter, 10:19, Grizzlies 29-27: Hasheem Thabeet is showing why he was a No. 2 overall pick in the draft last summer — the man can guard Shaquille O'Neal.
Shaq is on the floor with the second unit, and Thabeet's putting a body on him, forcing him to stay out of the paint. So far, the Diesel's been unleaded in this second quarter.
End of first quarter, 27-27: The Celtics get a big first quarter from Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce, but so far no one's been bigger than Memphis' Zach Randolph.
Z-Bo carries the Grizz in the first quarter to keep them even Steven with the C's. He's got 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, just killing Glen Davis in the low post.
The Celtics need to keep up the solid ball movement on offense and clog up the middle defensively. They can pull ahead if they force the Grizzlies to become jump shooters.
First quarter, 2:28, Grizzlies 23-22: Zach Randolph knocks down a difficult mid-range jumper to give the Grizzlies a lead. The crowd in Memphis loves it; Doc Rivers needs a timeout.
The Grizzlies are really hitting their shots early. As a team, they're 11-for-17 from the field so far, and Randolph is leading the way at a perfect 4-for-4 clip.
That can't keep up, of course. If the C's can weather this storm of jump shots and still be in the game, they've got to like their chances.
First quarter, 5:18, Celtics 20-15: Tony Allen has entered for the first time, and he's guarded by his old teammate and part-namesake, Ray Allen.
Not too many of the FedEx Forum fans are aware of the sentimentality of this moment. But back in Boston, they're feeling it. After six years of watching Tony Allen in Celtic green, they're now watching T.A. the enemy.
First quarter, 6:04, Celtics 17-13: Six field-goal attempts in six minutes for Shaq.
The Memphis crowd cheers heartily as the big man leaves, sitting down in favor of Glen Davis midway through the first.
It'll be interesting to see how the offense changes now. With Shaq sitting, the C's will probably have to rely on more ball movement to get open jumpers. Gasol will have an easier time guarding the smaller, less physical Big Baby.
First quarter, 7:50, Celtics 15-13: Marc Gasol really looks outclassed by Shaq right now.
The Diesel is having his way with the Spaniard, just elbowing him out of the way and taking it to the rim at every opportunity.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen haven't really been factors yet. They haven't needed to be.
First quarter, 9:13, 8-8: The first thing you notice about the Celtics in this one: They're really pounding the ball down low.
Of their first seven attempts from the field, Shaquille O'Neal has three and Kevin Garnett, two.
The Grizzlies' defense in the paint leaves a lot to be desired. Zach Randolph looks sluggish, and Marc Gasol might be even softer than his brother.
First quarter, 11:11, 2-2: Rudy Gay and Shaquille O'Neal trade baskets to open.
We've already seen the keys to this game emerge for both teams — for the Grizzlies, it's being athletic to create shots, and for the C's, it's moving the ball and pounding it inside.
Let's see if the Celtics can keep moving the ball well. That was a big reason they overcame Miami on Thursday.
7:30 p.m.: This Memphis game gives us all another chance to ponder Tony Allen's decision to move to Memphis. Why did he leave, if not for a greater role or a better chance to win?
T.A.'s first few games in Memphis haven't exactly been dazzling. His Grizzlies are an underwhelming 4-5, and he's averaging less than 13 minutes per game off the bench, including two DNPs.
Did he expect a more stable role than he had under Doc Rivers in Boston? Did he expect the Grizz to be better? Both were reasonable expectations, but neither has panned out.
T.A. said last month that he felt "overshadowed" by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but he appears to have the same problem now behind Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo. Some things never change…
6 p.m.: Shaquille O'Neal might be a little bit banged up, what with the bruised knee that kept him out of action last week, but apparently he's ready to be physical now.
Shaq said at Saturday morning's shootaround that he's got a "no [expletive] layups" rule in effect on the defensive end. If you barge into the lane and try to score on him, you'll be sorry.
That bodes well for Shaq and the Celtics as they match up the Memphis. The Grizzlies are a high-tempo, trigger-happy team. Force them to beat you from the perimeter, and you can break them down.
4 p.m.: Big question for any Celtics fan that heads into this game feeling a bit nostalgic: Will Tony Allen even play?
T.A. began the season as a key defensive stopper off the bench for Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, but apparently Hollins' feelings about the former Celtic have soured. Allen has gotten two DNPs in the past week, one last Saturday in Sacramento and another Monday night against the Suns.
We'll see if Hollins opts to use T.A. on Saturday night as a defensive weapon against his former teammates, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Last season, he was backing those guys up; now he's got a chance to stop them.
2 p.m.: This time, Paul Pierce isn't backing down.
Unlike after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when the Celtics' captain claimed his Twitter account was hacked after a suspicious trash-talking tweet, Pierce is accepting responsibility for this one.
Yesterday's "bring my talents to South Beach" tweet is still up on Pierce's account, and the captain isn't apologizing for it.
"It's self explanatory," Pierce told the Boston Globe. "There's nothing else to talk about. What's yall want to talk about? I don't need to add to it."
The Truth is talking an awfully big game on Nov. 13. Let's see if he can back it up on the court all year.
8 p.m.: A week ago when the Celtics first embarked on this four-game road trip down South, if you'd offered them three wins out of four, they probably would have taken it.
They've got a chance to finish the trip on a winning note Saturday, as they take on the Memphis Grizzlies before returning home. The C's have already earned a pair of statement wins this week at Oklahoma City and at Miami, but the last stop on the trip is often the toughest.
The Grizzlies are led by Rudy Gay, who's emerged this fall as one of the league's most prolific scorers. The Celtics will have their hands full.
But after getting the best of Kevin Durant and LeBron James already this week, the C's will be up to the task.