Isaiah Thomas explodes for 44 points (36 in the 2nd half and OT) on the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Celtics pull out a huge win in overtime 112-109. Thomas scored his 44 points on just 16 shots. He was 10-16 from the floor, 7-10 from three, and 17 for 17 from the line. Al Horford chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds.
The Grizzlies got huge 24 points from center Marc Gasol and from Troy Daniels off the bench. Mike Conley was the guy for Memphis down the stretch, scoring 19 points to go along with 8 assists, but it wasn't enough to hold off Thomas and the late surging Celtics.
The game started as a defensive slugfest. With 5:53 remaining in the 1st, the Celtics had a 10-6 advantage. The Grizzlies really struggled to scored to that point, but that would quickly reverse. Memphis heated up after a timeout, and closed out the quarter on a 9-0 run to lead the Celtics by 7 heading into the 2nd (22-15). They held a 17-8 advantage on the boards.
Celtics scored just five points in final 7:22 of first quarter.— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) December 21, 2016
The offensive struggles for the Celtics would continue into the 2nd. For a nearly 12 minuter span - from late in the 1st quarter to just over 3 minutes to go in the half - the Celtics managed a total of 7 points. They headed into the break down 45-31. Isaiah Thomas had a team high 8 points, and the Celtics shot a meager 29.3% as a team. The outside shots were not falling as they tallied an abysmal 1 for 15 from three.
The Grizzlies didn't fare much better shooting the ball, just 34% as a team, but their advantage was built on the second chance points. Memphis managed to pull down 12 offensive rebounds and score 13 points off of them.
Marc Gasol and Troy Daniels did most of the work on offense, scoring 15 and 14 points respectively, and JaMychal Green chipped in 4 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
Thomas came out firing in the 3rd for the Celtics, knocking down a pair of threes plus another basket to start the half on an 8-2 run that would prompt a Memphis timeout (50-42 Grizzlies). Once again, the Grizzlies regrouped after a timeout and stormed into an 11-2 run of their own - 7 of them from Gasol.
The momentum would swing once again, and Boston got themselves back into the game with a 14-1 charge that got them within 4, but the Grizzlies managed to close out the quarter. A corner three from Vince Carter had the Grizzlies up 71-62 heading into the final frame.
The 4th quarter comes along and once again it's Isaiah time to shine. He scored the first 9 points for the Celtics on a pair of threes and another he was fouled on which he made all three free throws. After a drive and dish from IT to Amir Johnson the Celtics trailed by just 3 points (76-73) with 9:13 to go in the game.
Isaiah is putting this team on his back...AGAIN— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) December 21, 2016
The Celtics managed to tie the score on yet another 3-pointer from Thomas, but Mike Conley answered back of for the Grizzlies. Conley scored 7 straight points in 90 seconds and his team led 85-78 with exactly 6 minutes to go in the game.
The game of runs continued as 8 straight points for Boston out of a timeout and they took their first lead since early in the first on this swat and outlet pass from Al Horford:
Al Horford swats the shot & fires the outlet to Bradley, who finished at the rim to give the Celtics the lead! pic.twitter.com/meIw6JzZDP— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 21, 2016
The teams traded baskets from there, and a huge three-pointer from Conley was matched by another big one from Isaiah to tie the game again with 1:38 to go. Conley came right back and drove to the hoop with a ridiculous circus layup that went in to put Memphis up 97-95 with 32.7 left on the clock.
The Celtics got the ball to Thomas on the other end, and he was fouled on a drive to the hoop. He made both free throws to knot up the score again. The Grizzlies went to Gasol to try and take the lead, but a miss and a rebound from Avery Bradley gave the Celtics the final shot with .09 seconds in the game. Brad Stevens drew up an alley-oop to Horford on an inbound from Kelly Olynyk that hit the rim on the way up - no good.
The teams traded baskets to start the extra frame, and another big three from Isaiah was matched by one on the other end by Troy Daniels (104-103 Boston; however, Zach Randolph was whistled for a hard elbow to the throat of Olynyk that after an official replay was assessed as a flagrant-2 foul, and he was ejected.
Olynyk made 1 of 2 free throws, but the Celtics were held to a shot-clock violation on the ensuing possession. A Tony Allen offensive rebound and put-back on the other end put Memphis up 106-105 with 1:10 to go. A foul on the imbound pass would put Isaiah at the free-throw line, and ultimately give the Celtics a 1 point advantage after two makes with just over a minute left.
That was the last lead change of the game, as another basket from Horford and free throws from Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder were enough to hold off the Grizzlies. The Celtics won it, 112-109.
An absolutely ridiculous game for Thomas; he scored 44 points on just 16 shots. He got to the line 17 times and made every single one of them. According to Basketball-reference.com, it's only the 8th time since '83-84 that a player scored that many on 16 shots or less:
Not too shabby. This was a quite a win for the C's, coming back from down 9 points entering the 4th against one of the best defensive teams in the league would certainly count as their first signature win of the season.
The Celtics will look for their 4th straight win Thursday night against Paul George and the Pacers in Indiana.
Photo Credit - Nelson Chenault/USA Today
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 12/20/2016 11:13:00 PM Tweet Edit