Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Tuesday, December 31st
Game 2: Monday, March 3rd

Celtics 96

(19-12, 12-5 home)

    2:00 PM ET, December 31, 2002

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 28 19 24 1889
    BOS 28 23 31 1496

    Top Performers

    Memphis: L. Wright 15 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    Boston: A. Walker 33 Pts, 11 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl

    Walkers helps Boston end three-game losing streak

    BOSTON (AP) -- Antoine Walker showed his play can dictate the team's future.

    Antoine Walker
    Boston Celtics
    30 21.3 7.5 4.5 .388 .657

    Walker, battling the flu the past few days, had 33 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as the Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 96-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.

    ''I felt very good once I got going,'' said Walker, who was sidelined for the second half of a defeat in Orlando on Saturday by the flu. ''I just felt good running the court, and I was in a rhythm.''

    Walker scored nine points in a decisive 18-4 run that punctuated the third quarter, including a 3-pointer on a buzzer-beater from the top of the key.

    Boston, which lost by 36 points at New Jersey and by 20 at Miami before falling to the Magic, overcame a slow start.

    ''We caught ourselves earlier this time,'' Paul Pierce said. ''We have to pick ourselves up from the start. I hate to see us go down by 10 points in the first quarter.''

    After the game, the Celtics officially introduced a collection of local business people, part of the franchise's new ownership group that was approved Tuesday, after a $360-million deal was announced Sept. 27.

    ''Today is a day for celebration, not for comment on basketball operations,'' said Wyc Grousbeck, one of two venture capitalists who heads the group.

    Walter McCarty added 16 points, Pierce 15 and Tony Delk 11 for the Celtics.

    Boston coach Jim O'Brien was glad to see the team's three-game losing streak end.

    ''Was the losing streak trouble?,'' he said. ''Damn straight it was trouble. But our guys know what makes a team that can compete and be a playoff team -- and that's to bring the defensive effort.''

    Pau Gasol led the Grizzlies with 18 points. Gordan Giricek had 17, Lorenzen Wright 15 and Shane Battier 11. Memphis dropped to 1-13 on the road this season, worst among teams in the Western Conference.

    ''We can't be happy with close,'' Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. ''We're trying to get past being close. Earlier in the year, we were happy with close because we were trying to close the gap. This game was winnable, and that's we're upset about.''

    The Grizzlies led 67-64 midway through the third quarter before the Celtics took charge with an 18-4 run.

    Walker started the run with a free throw and Pierce hit a pair from the line to tie the game. Boston then took the lead for good on Walker's layup.

    After Shammond Williams hit a jumper, Walker made a 3-pointer. Williams followed with a 3-pointer just 43 seconds later, making it 77-69. Following Drew Gooden's dunk, Walker hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the horn sounded.

    Memphis closed to 84-77 early in the final quarter, but Boston built its lead to 96-81 on a 3-pointer by McCarty.

    Boston led 51-47 at the half after trailing by 10 points early in the first quarter.

    Game notes

    Boston center Tony Battie was sidelined because of swelling in his right knee. ... Gooden was replaced in the starting lineup by Battier. ... Memphis finished the month by tying a franchise record with seven victories (7-8). The defeat, though, spoiled its bid for the first winning month in club history. ... Pierce left the bench in the closing minutes with a bruised right knee, but said he should be OK after the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 96
    FGM-FGA 35-81 (.432) 37-88 (.420)
    3PM-3PA 5-24 (.208) 12-27 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 10-11 (.909)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-47 13-40
    Assists 17 24
    Turnovers 18 14
    Steals 6 11
    Blocks 3 5
    Fast Break Points 8 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 17 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    Lorenzen Wright Wright
    Points: 15
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Antoine Walker Walker
    Points: 33
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0