With third-year defensive savant Avery Bradley making his season debut Wednesday night, this game wasn't to be treated like any other for the Boston Celtics. No matter, though, as they fell, 93-83, at home to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bradley's impact was felt in the 18 minutes he played, but it wasn't enough, as Boston allowed the Grizzlies to get almost any shot they wanted all night long. (They shot an unconscionable 44 percent from behind the three-point line on 18 attempts.)
After listless play for much of the first three quarters, Boston woke up early in the final frame, going on a 17-4 run that was capped off by a Jason Terry corner three with just over five minutes to go.
But the fire quickly went out even as their defense began to force shot-clock violations and bad perimeter shots. Bradley will have an impact on this team, but it wasn't to be Wednesday night.
Paul Pierce made four three-pointers and led the team with 17 points, but Kevin Garnett's awful shooting night was too much for the rest of the C's offense to overcome.
Battling a hip injury and Tony Allen's uber-aggressive on-ball defense, Rondo still looked to attack the basket early on. On one play in the first quarter, he faked Allen out on a hard ball fake, lifting him in the air and spinning free for an open layup.
Rondo finished the game with a 11-point, 10-assist double-double, but his jumper was especially ugly; his misses struggled to find the rim, let alone go through the hoop.
In his much awaited debut, Bradley scored Boston's first points on a signature baseline cut. He also pestered Mike Conley at all moments up and down the court, ruining Memphis' prime playmaker.
(Conley led all scorers with 23 points, but none of them came with Bradley as his primary defender.)
Being that this was Bradley's first game back, he only registered 20 minutes and his jump shot was gross. It's all a process, though. His defense was in All-World form, and as the season goes on, his offense will catch up.
Pierce struggled early on defensively with Rudy Gay, but more than made up for it by exploding from behind the three-point line, making his first three shots there and scoring 12 points in his first nine-and-half minutes of action.
His shot was fine, but Pierce floundered on almost every drive to the basket, looking lost at times and failing to get open looks on his own. It might be time for somebody else to take this role for Boston. Pierce finished with 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Garnett shot an abysmal 1-of-7 from the floor in the first half, going through a shooting cold spell in the second quarter that allowed the Grizzlies to get their lead up to eight points by the time he left the game.
In a most unusual stat, Garnett posted a plus/minus of minus-15, which was a game-worst. He played 32 minutes and scored 12 points on 14 shots, missing three of his five free-throw attempts as well.
Collins made a baseline jumper and unnecessarily fouled a bunch of people. In 18 minutes he grabbed one rebound and scored two points.
Collins starts for the Celtics because they need a big body to take some of the burden from Garnett, but Collins HAS to play better than he has.
Green had a pedestrian basketball game, making his only shot attempt in the first half—a three-pointer from the left wing—and finishing with 10 points (most of it in garbage time) in 14-plus minutes of play.
Courtney Lee was aggressive in the open court, Jason Terry knocked down open shots and Brandon Bass showed solid defense early on against the likes of Zach Randolph. But the shining star here continues to be Jared Sullinger, who was on the court—over Bass and Green—as the Celtics made their run in the final four minutes.
Before fouling out, Sullinger grabbed five rebounds in 19 minutes.