Celtics 119, Grizzlies 89

Grand time enjoyed by Garnett, Celtics

Email|Print| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / March 9, 2008

MEMPHIS - Celtics forward Kevin Garnett joined an exclusive club last night, one that has only three other current NBA players as members. It might not be long until teammate Ray Allen joins them.

Garnett become the 32d player in NBA history to pass the 20,000-point mark during the Celtics' 119-89 victory over the Grizzlies at the sold-out FedEx Forum. Garnett scored 17 points in the game to give him 20,010 for his career.

"I got to start shooting the ball more to catch him," said Allen, who scored a game-high 23 to give him 18,002 for his career. "I got to start shooting 30 times a game. It's interesting because he always throws it in my face that he has more points than I do. I always tell him that I played in college, so I really have more points than you do."

Garnett, playing in his 13th season, scored his 20,001th point on a lay-in with 4:41 left in the second quarter to give Boston a 45-27 lead. He joined Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant as active players to reach that illustrious mark.

"I wasn't aware coming in," Garnett said. "It's a great accomplishment for me. I'm more grateful to every coach, point guard, staff [member], everybody whose put me in a position to be successful and I just say thank you.

"It's a bit more meaningful as a Celtic when it happened. It seems like things are lining [up] for something more beautiful, like a championship."

Allen scored his points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 5 of 8 from 3-point territory. Allen, who is playing in his 12th season, didn't know that he had reached the mark until learning about it in a postgame radio interview.

"I didn't even know," Allen said. "I think when my career is over with and I sit back and reflect on everything that transpired, it's hard to be in the midst of everything going on and celebrate individual stuff. When it's over, you'll look at these moments and relish in the fun times you had.

"The more you do well, the more we play together as a team, the individual stuff is going to pile up for everybody."

New Celtics guard Sam Cassell helped Garnett and Allen score a lot of those points as he was their teammate in Minnesota and Milwaukee, respectively.

Cassell, who has yet to make his debut, enjoyed watching Garnett and Allen reach the milestones from the bench.

"To accomplish 20,000 points, and 18,000 for Ray, is an extreme honor," Cassell said.

The Celtics have won seven straight games overall and three straight on the road.

Boston improved its NBA-best record to 49-12 and is 19-3 against the Western Conference.

The Celtics are one win shy of their first 50-win season since Larry Bird's last season (1991-92).

Paul Pierce added 19 points while ex-Grizzlies forward James Posey added 15 points in 20 minutes and nailed five 3-pointers. The Celtics hit a season-high 15 3-pointers (in 30 attempts), while the hosts made but 6 of 23.

The Celtics arrived in Elvis Presley's surprisingly snowy hometown at about 4 a.m. yesterday after defeating the Bulls, 116-93, Friday in Boston.

Although they might have been sleepy, the Celtics were focused, as they have been all season, in the second game of back-to-backs. The Celtics have a 12-2 record overall and a 6-0 mark in home-road back-to-backs.

"It was nice," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers about his team's professionalism after playing the night before. "We talked about that before the game. We got in at 4 local time, which is 5 our time. You just didn't know.

"Honestly, I was concerned. You just didn't know, even though our guys didn't play a lot of minutes [Friday] night. That's tough.

"You don't know how they are going to react. But the way we shot showed us that we had fresh legs, which was really nice. It's a good mentality.

"A good focus."

The Celtics put the Grizzlies away quickly by outscoring them, 37-20, in the first quarter, shooting 73.7 percent from the field.

Boston shot 58 percent from the field overall and had 29 fast-break points. Memphis was limited to 39.7 shooting from the field and lost by a season-high margin.

"They did all the little things to win this game," Memphis guard Mike Conley Jr. said. "They were outrunning us, outjumping us. They weren't missing too many jump shots at all. They shot a very high percentage in the first quarter.

"We tried to play aggressive defense, but they were executing very well and knocking down shots."

Said Rivers: "When we play like that offensively, and with the stuff we did defensively, we are a good basketball team."

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