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Entering Wednesday night’s contest, the Bulls held a half game lead over the Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celts, therefore, needed a win to tie things up, but either way, the last 12 games of the season should be really interesting.
Paul Pierce did all he could for the good guys, scoring a team-best 22 points on 6-10 shooting (8-8 from the FT line), but he received little help from his teammates in a 90-87 loss. Ray Allen chipped in 14 points, while Kevin Garnett had 10 points and six boards for the C’s, who lost for the fifth time in their last nine games.
Every time the Grizz started to pull away, the Celtics fought back. Down 3 with under a minute to go, Glen Davis (12 points, 5 rebounds) sunk a jumper. Rajon Rondo missed a runner for the lead, and the C’s were forced to foul Mike Conley, Jr., who made both free throws.
After the C’s missed a three with just 4.6 seconds left to play, they fouled Marc Gasol, who subsequently missed both free throws. This gave Pierce a chance to tie it up, but his wild three was no good and the C’s were handed a tough loss.
Rajon Rondo was kind of close to having the league’s first quadruple-double since David Robinson in 1994 (The Admiral had 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks in that game). Rondo finished with just six points, but had 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and 7 steals.
More would be made about his quality game if the C’s won…but he had something to do with the loss. Rondo went just 2-12 from the field in taking an uncharacteristic number of attempts from the field. Had he sunk just a few more, he’d have a triple-double and the C’s would have a win.
Leon Powe and Tony Allen returned to a near-hero’s welcome at the TD Garden on Wednesday night. Both played huge parts in their title runs the last three years (Powe in 2008 and Allen in 2010), and the Garden faithful did the right thing in giving them their due.
Powe scored 13 points in just 17 minutes, while Allen started at shooting guard, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds.
These aren’t your father’s Grizzlies. This bunch is pretty good (40-32, 8th in the West), despite being without Rudy Gay for the rest of the season. But, when you look at their roster top to bottom, you see some talent: Zach Randolph (ONLY offensively), Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Jr., Shane Battier, and more. This team is pretty good.
With that said, that’s all the Celtics will see in the playoffs: good teams. They need to gel quickly over the remaining 12 games first to win the conference and clinch home-court throughout the playoffs, and to prove they can not only hang with, but beat quality opponents.
Next up for the Celtics is a game Friday against the Bobcats, a potential first round playoff opponent in the East.