Celtics stop Grizzlies with balanced attack


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – While leading scorer Paul Pierce is sidelined with a sore foot, the Boston Celtics are looking for ways to pick up the offensive slack.

They might stick with spreading the wealth.

Wally Szczerbiak scored 26 points and Tony Allen had 20 to lead seven players in double figures in the Celtics’ 128-119 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

“You can go through every guy on the roster, and each guy made a significant contribution,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “This was, to me, one of our better wins of the season.”

Ryan Gomes, Brian Scalabrine and Delonte West scored 16 points apiece for Boston. Al Jefferson had 12 and Kendrick Perkins 10. West added 11 assists.

Boston shot 58 percent from the field to Memphis’ 56 percent. The Celtics built a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter in winning for only the second time in nine games.

Mike Miller and Pau Gasol led the Grizzlies with 24 points each, and Miller had 14 assists. Damon Stoudamire added 17 points and nine assists, and Stromile Swift scored 15 before fouling out.

Gasol had five blocks.

The tone was set early when Boston weathered a scoring spurt by Memphis.

“Our starters came out with an aggressive mind-set,” said Scalabrine, who also defended Gasol. “They were all attacking the basket and making extra passes. Then our bench came in and did the same thing. Once we got on that track, we stayed on that track.

“As long as our starters come out with that aggressive mind-set, and we continue to do that, I believe we’ll have a chance to win offensively. If not, we have to grind it out defensively.”

The teams were tied 58-all at halftime. Szczerbiak had 13 points to lead Boston, while Miller and Stoudamire scored 10 apiece for Memphis.

Both teams were shooting 70 percent after their first 10 shots, and that accuracy continued through the first quarter. The Celtics hit 14 of their 21 shots in the period, while Memphis shot 72 percent for an early lead.

The Grizzlies entered shooting 52 percent from the field in three games under interim coach Tony Barone, who is emphasizing a fast-paced style. They dropped to 2-2 under Barone.

The running, shoot-at-will offense didn’t lead to strong defense.

“They got the ball into the post pretty much at will during the first three quarters,” Barone said. “We did a poor job of denying post entries. They did very well feeding the ball into the post, and that’s not good.”

But some of that came from defenders having to step out on Szczerbiak, who connected on 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-7 outside the arc.

“We didn’t defend,” Swift said. “We couldn’t stop them in the paint, and they got a lot of dribble penetrations and got to the basket.

“…They did everything that we didn’t do.”

Memphis began mishandling the ball in the second, and the Celtics disrupted the Grizzlies’ offense.

Boston was particularly effective in controlling Miller, who had been on a tear from the field recently. The Celtics had a defender, usually Szczerbiak or Allen, shadowing the Grizzlies’ shooter, allowing him only seven shots in the first half. Miller missed all three of his shots outside the arc in the half.

“We were not going to give him any open looks,” Szczerbiak said, “and he still hurt us quite a bit because he’s a good player. At the same time, we were able to come away with a win, and it was a good strategy by the coaches.”

Rivers agreed, saying they made an effort to not let Miller get comfortable from the start, preventing him from getting into a rhythm. It worked through three quarters as 13 of Miller’s points came in the fourth, including the Grizzlies’ first 10 points in the quarter.

“I don’t care what you do, you can’t give up 3s to him in transition,” Rivers said of Miller. “I think he hit one off a fast break, and that’s OK. He’s a great shooter and has been on a tremendous tear of late. … We knew if we could take away his transition 3-point attempts that we’d have a chance to shadow him.”

B>Notes:P> Pierce missed his seventh game with the foot injury. … Memphis entered averaging 121 points in three games under Barone. Under former coach Mike Fratello, the Grizzlies averaged 94.5. … Miller was 32-of-47 in his past three games from the field, including 23-of-34 from outside the arc. He finished 8-of-17 overall and 2-of-10 from 3-point range against Boston. … Barone got his first technical of the season when he argued with official Jim Clark after a foul was called on Rudy Gay with 10:10 left in the third. … The Celtics’ 34 first-quarter points was a season-high for the opening period. … West’s 16 points and 11 assists marked his first double-double of the season. … Scalabrine’s 16 points were a season-high. He entered the game averaging 2.6 points.