Although most Boston sports fans were focused on the Patriots playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, another one of the city’s professional teams started off the day on a winning note as the Boston Celtics defeated the Memphis Grizzlies at the “New Garden” by a final margin of 98-80. The home team would pull away in the closing moments of the first quarter, Memphis would threaten midway through the second period but the Celtics would get the lead back by the time the game reached the half. Boston then dominated most of the second half and the Grizzlies really were not a factor in the final 12 minutes of play.
Kevin Garnett was the leading scorer in the game with 24 points while Paul Pierce knocked down 21 points in the club’s fourth straight victory. Talk of splitting up the “Big Three” and going into rebuilding mode has died down with Boston going 8-2 in their last ten games. It was the second straight los for Memphis who are now back to even with a 12-12 mark for the season. Rudy Gay led the way for his squad with 21 points while O.J. Mayo came off the bench and had 15 points but they got too little support from the rest of their roster to have a chance to win this contest.
The Grizzlies jumped out on top early in the opening period as Sam Young knocked down a shot with 6:13 left in the period giving his team the upper hand at 12-6. Boston would respond in the final moments of the quarter; veteran Chris Wilcox hit a pair at the line just before time elapsed giving the home team a 24-16 advantage at the conclusion of the period. Dante Cunningham drained a mid-range jumper with 6:39 in the second and Memphis would go ahead with the score 32-27. The Celtics would erase their deficit and regain the lead as they closed out the quarter on a 16-3 run. As the two teams went to their locker rooms at the half Boston would hold the edge at 43-35.
The Grizzlies never really regrouped during the final 24 minutes of action. Boston would hold a double-digit lead for much of the third and Memphis would never get any closer than trailing by six points. The home team led 69-61 heading into the final period. The final 12 minutes of play was extended garbage time , as Celtics fans would go home to watch the Super Bowl with smiles on their faces.
Garnett had 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal while Pierce scored 21 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and a steal. Ray Allen put up 12 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist while Wilcox added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal. Rookie JaJuan Johnson had another nice game off the bench with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and a steal while Rajon Rondo in his second game after returning from a wrist injury scored just 5 points, but dished off 14 assists, 5 rebounds and had 2 steals.
Gay knocked down 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and a steal while Mayo came off the bench with 15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist. Sam Young and Dante Cunningham both scored 10 points in the loss. Boston improves to 13-10 and will host the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday while Memphis has a 12-12 record and they will be back at home to face the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.