Thomas' career-high 44 points lead Celtics to 112-109 OT win vs. Grizzlies

Thomas' career-high 44 points lead Celtics to 112-109 OT win vs. Grizzlies

Close game, on the road at Memphis.

This is usually a bad combination for teams when facing the Memphis Grizzlies.

Not tonight.

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.


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.

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”