Tony Allen scored a season-high 15 points to help his current team beat his old one. Then he went down the sideline trading fist-bumps and hugs with his former teammates and coaches.
Mike Conley had 23 points and nine assists, and Allen had nine points and four of his five rebounds in the second half on Wednesday night to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 93-83 victory over the Boston Celtics. It was the fourth consecutive loss for Boston, which won its 17th NBA title with Allen in 2008.
“You come back to a team that you won a championship with, and there’s no greater feeling than coming back and getting that win,” Allen said. “Put all my feelings and emotions to the side and came out and did everything that Coach Lionel (Hollins) asked me to do.”
Rudy Gay scored 19 points for Memphis, which shot 61 percent from the floor — and 62.5 percent from 3-point range — in the first half. The Grizzlies led by 18 early in the fourth quarter, then made 8 of 11 free throws down the stretch after the Celtics made it a five-point game.
“Whatever we’re doing wrong, it’s not going to get fixed in a day,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “That’s what happens when things aren’t going well: You’ve got to make them go well.”
Rivers was one of the Celtics that Allen sought out for a hug as the clock wound down. Afterward, in the visitors’ locker room, Allen was showing off a blood-stained Celtics uniform that he had worn in the NBA Finals; an equipment manager gave it to him.
“This is one of my jerseys they had. It almost brought tears to my eyes,” said Allen, who had played in Boston as an opponent only once before, in 2011.
“There’s still going to be one or two of those guys … I love them to death. That’s my family; like I said, it’s a brotherhood. … From the training camps in Maine to long seasons, getting the ring, raising the banner, the ring ceremony, all that. I just told them `Thanks for everything and good luck for the rest of the season.”
Paul Pierce scored 17 for Boston, but he had just one basket in the third quarter and none in the fourth while missing seven of his last eight shots.
Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, who trailed by 79-61 after the opening basket of the fourth quarter but closed the gap to 83-78 with under 5 minutes to play on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jason Terry. Boston began fouling and the Grizzlies made their shots.
“We sit in here and we talk about being positive, don’t get our heads down,” Pierce said. “It’s just like any confident person: When things don’t go your way you feel the next thing is going to go your way, and that’s how this team feels.”
Memphis led by nine at the half and took a 75-59 lead after three quarters, then Marreese Speights hit a pair of baskets at the beginning of the fourth to give the Grizzlies a 79-61 lead. But Kevin Garnett scored eight points during a 17-4 run, and Boston made it 83-78 on Terry’s 3-pointers 46 seconds apart.
It was 85-78 with under 3 minutes to play when Garnett missed a pair of free throws and then committed a foul at the other end. The Celtics big man finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Avery Bradley returned from injuries to both shoulders for his first appearance of the season for the Celtics. He started and scored four points in 19:31. Rondo didn’t practice on Tuesday but played in his second straight after missing a game with bruised right hip and thigh.
The Celtics lost three straight at the end of their four-game West Coast road trip — by an average of 23 points. … Garnett played in his 1,286th game, tying him with Sam Perkins for 14th on the NBA career list. … Boston rookie Jared Sullinger picked up three fouls in three minutes in the first half…. The Grizzlies had lost three of four after winning four in a row. … Memphis has forced at least 10 turnovers in 132 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA. … Memphis reserve Jerryd Bayless sprained his left ankle in the first half and did not return. … Celtics rookie Fab Melo was in Boston to see a doctor after receiving a concussion when he ran into a hotel door. He expects to be back in Maine on Friday.