Home is where the heart is, right? Only if you can find it when you get there.
The Boston Celtics certainly didn’t take it with them on their three game swing through California – rather, they left it at home in a safe place. Or so they thought.
It wasn’t where they remembered leaving it. They searched high and low, overturning cushions, clearing out junk drawers and even rifling through the laundry – and by the time they found it, it was too late to avoid their 4th loss in a row.
But at least they found it.
Kevin Garnett scored eight of his 12 points during a spirited 17-4 Celtics run in the 4th quarter, but it simply wasn’t enough to overcome a huge Memphis Grizzlies lead, and Boston fell at home 93-83.
Paul Pierce scored a team-high 17 points for Boston, but curiously disappeared down the stretch, going scoreless in the 4th quarter after hitting only one bucket in the third. Rajon Rondo scored 11 and dished out 10 helpers and reserve forward Jeff Green added 10 points off the bench for the Celtics, now 14-17.
Jason Terry had consecutive three pointers to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to five at 83-78 before the late run ran out of gas. Garnett had two free throws and a chance to get the Celtics closer with three minutes left in the game, but he missed both and then committed a foul on the other end and the comeback ended as Boston resorted to fouling.
Memphis hit 8 of 11 free throws down the stretch to improve their record to 20-9.
Mike Conley paced the Grizzlies with 23 points and Rudy Gay hit for 19 as Memphis broke out of a funk that saw them lose 3 out of four games coming into Boston. Former Celtic Tony Allen scored a season high 15 points and forward Zach Randolph pulled down 8 boards to help Memphis embarass the Celtics on the boards.
An equipment manager for the Celtics gave Allen an old blood-stained jersey from his days playing in Boston, and Allen sought out several ex-teammates after the contest.
“This is one of my jerseys they had. It almost brought tears to my eyes,” said Allen, who had played in Boston during their last title run “From the training camps in Maine to long seasons, getting the ring, raising the banner, the ring ceremony, all that. I just told them “Thanks for everything and good luck for the rest of the season.”’
A common theme all through the latest road trip, the Celtics fell behind by a wide margin, trailing 79-61 early in the 4th – but Garnett, who has typically been the one to disappear late in games, came alive to spark the Boston comeback which, ultimately, fell short.
Avery Bradley started his first game of the season for the Celtics after being laid low with multiple shoulder surgeries, and predictably struggled, scoring just four points in 20 minutes, but the Celtics expect bigger things from him as they search for a lineup that works for a solid 48 minutes.
“Whatever we’re doing wrong, it’s not going to get fixed in a day,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “That’s what happens when things aren’t going well: You’ve got to make them go well.”
Boston now gets a day of rest before hosting the Indiana Pacers on Friday night while Memphis returns home briefly to host the Portland Trailblazers on Friday before heading out west to take on Phoenix on Sunday.