7:00 PM ET, March 3, 2003
Pierce, who missed Boston's past two games with lower back pain, scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Monday night as the Celtics held on for a 111-110 victory over the Grizzlies.
''(My back) felt very good,'' Pierce said. ''Coach (Jim O'Brien) did a good job of pacing me early on. It's not 100 percent, but it's good.''
Pierce went 12-for-19 from the field as the Celtics won for the third time in four games. The defeat snapped a three-game home winning streak for the Grizzlies.
''We will certainly take the win against a team that has beaten quite a few good basketball teams in the end,'' O'Brien said, referring to the Grizzlies' home victories over New Jersey and Indiana since the All-Star break.
Memphis closed to three, 108-105, when Jason Williams missed a layup and Pau Gasol missed the follow-up jam with 26 seconds left. Tony Battie made one free throw and J.R. Bremer two for Boston before a 3-pointer by Memphis' Shane Battier with less than a second left accounted for the final score.
Bremer helped keep the Celtics ahead in the fourth quarter, when he scored 10 of his 23 points. Antoine Walker added 17 points and 14 rebounds for Boston, but was 8-for-24 from the field.
''Paul Pierce and Bremer did great when the (shot) clock was down to three seconds,'' Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. ''It was amazing. They came up with 8 of 11 3s, (many) with the shot clock within three seconds. They were great.''
Bremer was 5-for-6 from behind the 3-point line while Pierce was 3-for-5.
''Our defense broke down, and Bremer had some wide-open looks, and he made us pay,'' Memphis guard Earl Watson said. ''That's something that can't happen. It is something we have to overcome.''
Seven Grizzlies finished in double figures, led by Gasol's 23 points and 17 rebounds. Battier had a season-high 21 points, while Wesley Person added 18.
The Celtics opened a 13-point first-half lead and led 67-62 at the break. Pierce led the way, hitting eight of his 10 shots for 19 points.
Gasol was 8-for-9 from the floor for 16 points in the opening half, while Person added 11.
''We were so close at the end,'' Gasol said. ''They shot very well, but we had a chance to win the game.''
Both teams shot well in the first half, the Celtics connecting on 64 percent of their attempts, while Memphis hit 57 percent. Boston finished with 53 percent from the field, while Memphis shot 48 percent.
The Grizzlies were able to take their first lead of the game midway through the third period on a 3-pointer by Battier. With Pierce on the bench, Boston struggled offensively and Memphis built the lead to 82-79.
But Boston, which lost Sunday at Toronto, would score the last six points of the quarter and take an 87-84 lead into the final period. Memphis would hold a couple of one-point leads in the fourth, but could never build a comfortable margin.
''Every time we wanted to get over the hump, they made a big shot,'' Person said. ''You have to give them credit. We played them down to the 24-second clock, and they made big shots. That was the difference in the game.''
Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright missed his second game due to the death of his 11-month-old daughter, Sierra, on Saturday. ... Most Grizzlies wore armbands with Wright's No. 42 in support of their teammate. There was a moment of silence for the infant before the game. ... Stromile Swift, who was supposed to start in Wright's place, missed the Monday shootaround because of a migraine, leading to Gasol starting at center and Mike Batiste getting the start at forward. ... Pierce had a streak of 257 consecutive games played snapped when he sat out because of his injured back. ... The Celtics activated Bruno Sundov from the injured list before the game. ... Gasol's double-double was his 22nd of the season. Pierce collected his 19th of the season. Walker's was his 13th ... Battier's previous high for the season was 17 at Portland on Jan. 15.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||43-81 (.531)||46-95 (.484)|
|3PM-3PA||12-22 (.545)||12-27 (.444)|
|FTM-FTA||13-24 (.542)||6-11 (.545)|
|Fast Break Points||4||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (1/0)||19 (2/0)|