Grizzlies Vs. Celtics: Paul Pierce, Boston Edged By Memphis, 90-87

Paul Pierce scored a game-high 22 points, but he missed the game-tying three as time expired and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Boston Celtics, 90-87, on Wednesday night. Read more at CelticsBlog and Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Grizzlies 90, Celtics 87: Paul Pierce, Boston Edged By Memphis

Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics have been the engineers of the quite a few prolific comebacks and finishes in the Big Three era. Yet in the final minute against Memphis on Wednesday night, the Celtics looked more like a lottery team than a title contender.

Pierce, who finished with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting, missed the game-tying three as time expired and the Grizzlies topped the Celtics, 90-87, at TD Garden.

With 52 seconds remaining, Glen Davis (12 points, five rebounds) made an 18-foot jumper to pull Boston (50-20) within one, 88-87. Nearly thirty seconds later, Zach Randolph (13 points, eight rebounds) missed a 15-foot jumper, and Rajon Rondo (six points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) grabbed the rebound.

Rondo brought the ball up the floor and found his way into the paint, but put up an awkward floater that missed with 19 seconds left. Rondo was forced to foul Mike Conley (nine points, five assists), who made both free throws to put the Grizzlies (40-32) up 90-87.

Presented with a chance to tie the game, the Celtics inbounded the ball and found Davis, who attempted a 24-foot three and missed, and Marc Gasol (11 points, 11 rebounds) grabbed the rebound with four seconds left.

Fortunately, Gasol missed both and Rondo grabbed the rebound after the second missed free throw and called timeout with four ticks left. Given yet another shot at tying the game, Boston inbounded the ball to Pierce who waited a few seconds before putting up an awkward three, which bounced off the front rim as the clock hit triple zeros.

Leon Powe scored 13 points and Tony Allen had eight points and seven rebounds for Memphis, which shot 44.6 percent from the field (37-for-83) and made 3-of-6 three-pointers. Sam Young finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, O.J. Mayo added 11 points and Darrell Arthur finished with 10 points for the Grizzlies.

Ray Allen scored 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting for the Celtics (50-20), who made 29-of-69 shots and 22-of-23 free throws. Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green both had 10 points.

Boston fell one full game behind the Chicago Bulls for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics return to action on Friday night when they host the Charlotte Bobcats (7:30 p.m. EDT).

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Celtics vs. Grizzlies: Three In A Row, Return To First Place In The East On Tap For C's

Two wins in a row, both of the comeback variety. But the Celtics victories over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday and the Knicks on Monday had something else in common. They were both made possible because of the Celts continued sparkling play on defense.

Against the Hornets, the C's bounced back from allowing 51 points in the first half to just 34 in the second, while holding New Orleans to 28.6 percent shooting (6-of-21) in the third quarter. On Monday in Madison Square Garden, it was more of the same, with the Knicks managing just 35 points after halftime after posting 51 in the first half, and shooting a lousy 31.4 percent following the break. Furthermore, neither of the Knicks stars, Amar'e Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony, made a single shot in the fourth quarter of the Celts 96-86 win.

On Wednesday night, the Celts (50-19) will look to win their third straight when the Memphis Grizzlies come to town at 7:30 p.m. EDT, on Comcast Sports Net New England. The Grizzlies (39-32) currently hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, two games ahead of Houston and three ahead of Phoenix and Utah. Memphis, led by power forward Zach Randolph (20.1 PPG, 12.6 RPG) has won three of its last four but dropped a 116-110, overtime decision to the C's back on Nov. 13, at FedEx Forum. Paul Pierce led the Celts with 28n points in that one, while Rajon Rondo pitched in with 17 assists.

The C's got big games in New York from Kevin Garnett, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds while holding Stoudemire to 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and Paul Pierce, who finished with 21 and took over in the decisive fourth quarter. It was Pierce's best game in two weeks, since dropping 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting on Milwaukee in an 89-83 win. A win Wednesday night will move the Celts back into a tie for first place overall in the Eastern Conference with the idle Chicago Bulls, who hammered the Atlanta Hawks, 114-81 on Tuesday.

The game will also mark the return to Boston of Tony Allen, the former Celts reserve swingman who signed a three-year deal with the Grizzlies last summer. Allen has been starting in place of injured Memphis star Rudy Gay for the past several weeks and is averaging 8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while also serving as the Grizzlies' key defensive stopper.

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