Grizzlies-Celtics Preview


The Memphis Grizzlies had some late trouble defending the 3-point shot their last time out, and now they have to face the team that's the best at making them.

The Grizzlies wrap up a three-game road trip Sunday afternoon when they face a Boston Celtics team that is 0-4 against Western Conference opponents.

Memphis (12-11) missed a chance at a three-game win streak with Friday's 101-94 loss at Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies were outscored 32-17 in the fourth quarter as they allowed the Thunder to make 4 of 7 3-pointers.

"They were driving to the basket well," coach Lionel Hollins said. "So you are in a stance playing drive defense and they rise up and shot a 3. That's just the way it goes."

Boston (12-10) should present a stiff challenge with its NBA-best 42.7 3-point percentage. The Celtics made 7 of 13 3s in the first half Friday, but still needed to rally from a six-point deficit at the break in an 91-89 home win over New York.

"We weren't playing well," coach Doc Rivers said. "A lot of our 3s came out of loose balls, picking them up and making shots."

Boston has won six of seven by shooting 47.6 percent overall. Friday's 40.8 percent effort was the Celtics' worst of that stretch.

"It's good when you find a way to win,'' said Paul Pierce, who scored a game-high 30. "Things really weren't going our way."

Rajon Rondo, among the NBA leaders with 9.2 assists per game, returned to the lineup and had seven points, seven assists and five boards after missing the previous eight with a right wrist injury.

"Rajon is one of the toughest people I have ever been around," forward Kevin Garnett said. "Just to see his grit and the way he goes at things. Man, I am talking about a fighter."

Boston also is the NBA's best at defending the 3 at 29.4 percent.

Rondo totaled 28 assists, 17 points, 16 rebounds and nine steals in two meetings with Memphis last season as the visiting team won each time. Pierce averaged 25.0 points on 65.2 percent shooting in those games.

While Boston has yet to beat a team from the West, Memphis has won four straight against East foes by an average margin of 15.7 points. The Grizzlies have won their last two at Boston.

Hollins, though, has seen his team shoot 40.4 percent during a stretch in which it has lost five of seven. The Grizzlies shot 42.5 percent Friday, including 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

"We started taking too many jump shots as we were coming down the stretch, but my guys played really hard,'' Hollins said. "They left it out there and they didn't have enough in the tank coming down the stretch.''

Marc Gasol had 24 points and eight boards while Rudy Gay added 23 points.

"Tonight wasn't about effort," Gasol said. "We did a good job throughout the whole game. It was more about executing, mentally you know, playing through our mistakes. With that kind of effort, we're going to be OK."

Former Celtics guard Tony Allen is averaging 17.3 points in his last three games for Memphis. Allen played for Boston from 2004-10.