Commentary

All three come up big

Allen, Pierce, Garnett make critical plays in win over Grizzlies

Updated: December 15, 2009, 1:05 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

Among the keys to the Celtics' success during their current 11-game winning streak has been the continued progression of Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, along with the improved play of sixth man Rasheed Wallace.

And while that trio -- let's call them the Little Three -- all finished in double figures Monday night against Memphis, make no mistake that this team still belongs to the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

Pierce and Allen combined to connect on 8-of-9 3-pointers, while Garnett contributed 5-of-7 shooting from the floor as the trio joined forces to score 50 points in a 110-105 triumph over the Grizzlies.

Allen (6-of-13 overall, 5-of-6 3-pointers, 18 points) might have hit the biggest shot of the night with his shot-clock-beating 3-pointer that essentially sealed the win with 17.5 seconds remaining.

But both Pierce (5-of-11 overall, 3-of-3 3-pointers, 19 points) and Garnett (13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block) added buckets in the final 1:20 to help Boston improve to 12-1 on the road this season.

"We're trying to make it a dogfight," said Pierce. "We're trying to get the win off of everybody. There's going to be some nights when it's tougher than others. This team has been a road warrior type of team. It's great to get that last game on the road trip before we go back home."

Rondo's jumper with 2:47 remaining put Boston out front 103-95, but Memphis quickly made it a one-possession game, striking for three buckets in little more than a minute.

That's when the Big Three took over. Pierce and Garnett ran a familiar pick-and-pop, leading to a 21-foot jumper by Garnett with 1:20 to play. Marc Gasol answered with a pair of free throws when Perkins fouled out, but Pierce made a driving layup on the Celtics' next possession to push the lead back to four.

O.J. Mayo hit a long jumper to make it 107-105 with 42 ticks left, setting up Allen's heroics. Pierce and Garnett tried to run the same play at the top of the key, but Rudy Gay deflected the pass. Allen scrambled to get the loose ball, then pulled up from well beyond the 3-point arc and drilled a straightaway bomb for the final spread.

"We improvised a little bit," said Allen, who gathered the ball with no more than four seconds to shoot. "Then I looked up [at the basket] and it was like 3 [seconds], and I said: 'This has got to go up.' That's one of those things where, when you are aware of the clock, you know what kind of shot you've got to get up."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it's the experience of playing together for three seasons -- and winning an NBA title -- that allows his team to thrive in those pressure situations.

"We've been together, that's our advantage," said Rivers. "We've had the same starting five for the last three years and veterans coming off the bench, like Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace. We've played a lot of games together. There's a great confidence from that, knowing that, if the game is close, we can win the game.

"The Ray shot was just Ray. It was a lot of luck and a good shot for him once he got it. We'll take the win."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Chris Forsberg is a roving reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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