Close game, on the road at Memphis.
This is usually a bad combination for teams when facing the Memphis Grizzlies.
Boston came up with several big baskets and clutch shots to wipe out a 17-point deficit and force overtime where their strong play carried them to a 112-109 win.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 112, Memphis Grizzlies 109
- Horford gets second chance in OT after missed shot at end of regulation
- Stars, studs and duds: Isaiah Thomas 'unstoppable' vs. Grizzlies
The Celtics (16-12) notched their first win of the season (after six losses) over a team with a winning percentage of .600 or better, easily the signature victory they were desperately seeking this season.
And doing it in a down-to-the-wire battle with Memphis is even more impressive when you consider the Grizzlies (18-12) are the league’s best when it comes to closing out tight games.
They came into Tuesday’s matchup with a 12-1 record in games that were within three points or less with a minute or less to play in regulation or overtime.
Make that 12-2.
And while there were lots of heroes for the Celtics, none stood taller than 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas who had a career-high 44 points on just 16 shots (he made 10) from the field.
“I’m a killer; I’m a killer,” Thomas told CSN’s Kyle Draper following the win. “My team needed me to score. They got me open. I just took it from there.”
Memphis was led by Marc Gasol who had 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in addition to Mike Conley who had 19 points and eight assists. The Grizzlies also got a strong game from Troy Daniels who had 24 points off the Memphis bench.
The Celtics spent most of the game trying to find a flow or rhythm on Memphis’ home floor which has usually left teams humming the blues due to the Grizzlies’ knack for grinding out games.
Boston fell behind by as many as 17 points, but were within one possession 78-75 with more than eight minutes to play in regulation.
The Celtics soon tied it up with a Thomas 3-pointer.
But the Grizzlies soon pushed back with a run fueled by Conley who has struggled since returning to the Memphis lineup after missing nine games with a lower back injury that according to Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale, is still an issue.
“Mike is a tough cat,” Fizdale told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “He just battles through. The guy is literally playing with a broken back, fractures in his back and not taking pain killers. I don’t know if Mike’s hurting or not hurting; I just know it’s natural for what he’s going through. From a rhythm standpoint and shooting standpoint, he’s got to get back in the groove.”
Conley did in the fourth quarter, scoring seven straight points to break a 78-all tie.
Once in overtime, the Celtics immediately took control with an early jumper by Jae Crowder. The Celtics caught another break later on when Zach Randolph was whistled for a flagrant-2 penalty (an automatic ejection) with 2:43 to play in overtime after landing an elbow to Kelly Olynyk’s throat.
Olynyk, who had 10 points, made one of two free throws following Randolph’s ejection.
But the play that probably sealed it for the Celtics was a lay-up by Al Horford with about 30 seconds to play in overtime, a bit of sweet redemption after he missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up at the end of regulation that was defended tightly by ex-Celtic Tony Allen.