Allen, Celtics breeze by Grizzlies for eighth straight win

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Despite playing the second game of a back-to-back against a weak opponent, the Boston Celtics took a professional, workmanlike approach against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Ray Allen scored 23 points and Paul Pierce added 19 to lead the Celtics to a 119-89 victory over Memphis on Saturday night, sending the Grizzlies to their worst loss of the season.

"We wanted to get off to a good start," Pierce said. "We felt like this was a game we would win, not to take anything away from the Grizzlies. If we just move the ball, and don't play to the level of our opponents, we should get this win."

Boston, which won its eighth straight, built an early lead on effective shooting and stout pressure defense. Memphis never got the margin under double digits after the 5-minute mark of the first quarter, dropping to 2-16 in its last 18 games.

"They had a fantastic first quarter," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said, "and that was the game right there. We battled a little bit, but they just had too much firepower."

Kevin Garnett added 17 points, while James Posey had 15 for the Celtics, who shot 58 percent from the field. Kendrick Perkins scored 13 on 6-of-7 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The Celtics, who defeated the Chicago Bulls 116-93 on Friday, improved to 27-1 against teams with losing records and are 12-2 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Hakim Warrick led the Grizzlies with 15 points, while Rudy Gay finished with 13, but was 4-of-15 from the field. Mike Conley had 11 and Darko Milicic added 10.

The Celtics have already clinched a playoff spot and showed why they have the best record in the league, while Memphis is among the worst. The lead was so comfortable for the Celtics, the Boston starters sat out the fourth quarter.

Memphis barely made a dent even against the reserves. Of course, the Grizzlies had removed most of their starters as well.

The dominance showed on the boards where Boston held a 45-31 advantage and the Celtics' 29-10 margin on fastbreak points.

"They were just outrunning us, outjumping us. They weren't missing too many jump shots," Conley said. "They shot a very good percentage in the first quarter."

The Celtics shot 74 percent in the first quarter building an early 17-point lead. Boston had open looks and got to the rim, and defensively challenged Memphis' moves to the basket and contributed to balky ball movement.

"We had a lot of great ball movement, and we were aggressive," Allen said. "...That start was great for us."

The Celtics didn't maintain the same shooting pace, but did extend the advantage to as many as 20 points and carried a 51-37 lead into halftime.

Pierce had 14 for the Celtics, while Garnett and Allen had 10 apiece.

In the third, Garnett's one-handed jam off an alley-oop pass from Eddie House gave the Celtics a 24-point lead, which helped Boston hold a 91-65 advantage at the end of the third period.

"Obviously, we know why they are the No. 1 team in basketball," Iavaroni said. "They have a very good combination of shooting and tough defense. It's more than just Kevin Garnett. They have done a great job of getting into a system of where everyone believes that if they work hard and work hard together, then they can shut people down."

Game notes
Garnett reached the 20,000-point plateau with a breakaway layup with 4:41 left in the first half, becoming the 32nd player in league history to reach the mark, and only the fourth active player. The other three are Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. Ray Allen surpassed 18,000 points in the game. "If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't get that 18,000 or 20,000," Pierce said laughing. " ... It just shows those guys never pass the ball." ... The Grizzlies' last win over a team with a winning record was Dec. 19 when Memphis defeated San Antonio. ... Boston G Sam Cassell, who was signed as free agent on March 4, was on the inactive list.