for this game

Allen, Celtics crush lowly Grizzlies

Mar 9, 2008 - 6:26 AM By Shawn Pachucki PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) - The "Big Three" flexed their muscle for the surging Boston Celtics in a convincing 119-89 victory over the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

Ray Allen scored 23 points and made five 3-pointers, and fellow All-Star Paul Pierce added 19 in carrying Boston to its eighth straight win.

"We're on a nice roll right now," Allen said. "The guys are playing well together right now. We're making good decisions and moving the ball. And you see, when we move the ball around and get good shots and stay sound on the defensive end, we're pretty tough to handle."

Superstar Kevin Garnett finished with 17 points en route to becoming the 32nd player in league history to score 20,000 points and only the fourth active performer.

Garnett's historic moment came with 4:41 to play in the second when he scored on a breakaway layup.

"I wasn't aware of it coming in. It's a great accomplishment for me," Garnett said. "It's a bit more meaningful being a Celtic when it happened, and it seems like things are lining up for something more beautiful, like a championship."

Coming off a 116-93 win over Chicago a night ago, when four starters sat out the entire fourth quarter, the Celtics had a repeat performance in this one.

Boston shot a sizzling 58 percent (47-of-81) from the floor and hit 15 3-pointers.

"It's a good win. Everybody played well, the starters and the reserve guys," Garnett said. "We got off to a fast start and put them in a pretty difficult position to come back."

The trio of Allen, Garnett and Pierce combined for 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the first to outscore the Grizzlies, giving the Celtics a 37-20 lead after one.

Boston shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the opening period, while forcing Memphis to miss 13 of its first 20 attempts.

"The first quarter is what got it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Once you get a lead, everybody gets comfortable. When we play like that offensively and combo it with our defense, we're a good basketball team."

The Celtics didn't miss a beat after the break as Allen opened the third with consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 15-6 run to make it 66-43 at the 7:16 mark.

After racking up 40 points in the third quarter, Boston entered the fourth in total command, 91-65, allowing Allen and his fellow starters to rest for the second consecutive night.

The Celtics have won five games during their winning streak by double figures, including three by 25 points or more.

Memphis, meanwhile, remains in search of back-to-back wins for just the second time this season.

"Against a team like Boston, you can't dig yourself a hole," Grizzlies forward Hakim Warrick said. "We have to get off to better starts. (Boston) is a great team, but we can't make mistakes and make it easy on them."

Warrick scored 15 points and Rudy Gay chipped in 13 for Memphis, which shot just 39 percent (29-of-73) for its third straight setback to Boston.

"We battled a little bit, but they just had too much firepower," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "They are a great shooting team and a great defensive team. They obviously are a championship-caliber team."

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