C's Improve to 49-12
MEMPHIS - Celtics forward Kevin Garnett joined an exclusive club last night that only three other current NBA players have membership to.
Garnett became only the 32d player in NBA history to pass the 20,000-point mark during the Celtics' 119-89 victory over the Grizzlies at the sold-out FedEx Forum.
Garnett, in his 12th year, scored his 20,001th point on a lay-in with 4:41 left in the second quarter to give the Celtics a 45-27 lead. Garnett scored 17 in the victory for 20,010 points in his career, joining Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant as active players to reach that illustrious mark.
The Celtics, thanks in part to a 15-for-30 shooting performance from 3-point territory, have won seven straight games overall and three straight on the road. They improved their NBA-best record to 49-12, while upping their mark against the Western Conference to 19-3.
The Celtics are one win shy of their first 50-win season since Larry Bird's last season (1991-92). Ray Allen's 9-of-13 shooting brought him a game-high 23 points - giving him 18,002 for his career - and Paul Pierce added 19.
The Celtics arrived in Elvis Presley's surprisingly snowy hometown at about 4 a.m. yesterday after defeating the Bulls, 116-93, Friday in Boston. Although they might have been sleepy, the Celtics were focused as they have been all year in the second game of back-to-backs. The Celtics have a 12-2 record overall and a 6-0 mark in home-road back-to-backs.
Boston opened the game strong by running to a 12-2 lead after making 5 of 6 field goal attempts and two 3-pointers. With the Celtics up, 29-11, starting point guard Rajon Rondo picked up his third foul and went to the bench. Boston had eight fouls to zero for Memphis and Celtics coach Doc Rivers made sure the referees knew about it after Rondo's foul. Memphis's first foul came with 2:05 left in the first.
With 5.5 seconds left and Memphis's Jason Collins shooting free throws, Rivers put Rondo and Allen in the game, despite the foul trouble, in hopes of a potential last-second shot. Rivers's move paid off as Rondo got the ball after a Collins miss and raced down court and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Boston a 37-20 lead.
The Celtics shot 73.7 percent from the field (14 of 19) and nailed 5 of 7 3-pointers. Boston was also 1 point shy of tying a season high in scoring in the first quarter. The Celtics also had 10 personal fouls in the first.
Boston went up 20 points (43-23) on a Pierce lay-in with six minutes left in the second. The Celtics went into halftime with a 51-37 lead after shooting 54.1 percent from the field. Memphis shot only 35.9 percent in the first half and was 0 for 8 from 3-point range. For the game, the hosts shot 26.1 percent on 3-pointers (6 for 23).
Eight quick points by Allen gave Boston a 60-40 lead with 9:22 left in the third quarter.
Garnett's one-handed alley-oop dunk with 4:29 remaining in the quarter gave the Celtics a comfortable 76-52 lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by James Posey (15 points in 20 minutes) and Allen gave Boston a lofty 91-60 lead with 39.8 seconds remaining.
With P.J. Brown on the floor making his second appearance with the Celtics, Posey's 3-pointer with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter gave Boston a 99-67 lead.
Another Posey 3-pointer in front of the Grizzlies' bench made nearby Beale Street very appealing to the quickly exiting hometown fans, as Boston went up, 108-72, with 6:47 left in the game.