Ricky Davis was hoping he would have another chance. Davis missed a 14-footer with two minutes remaining, a shot that could have extended the lead to 89-82, enough points to clinch a victory for the Celtics over the Memphis Grizzlies last night.
And Davis did receive another opportunity in the final seconds, from virtually the same spot on the floor, just to the left of the free throw line. This time, Davis's shot went in, with 3.9 seconds showing on the clock, the final points of a 90-88 Boston win.
"I was a little off-balance," Davis said of the missed attempt. "But that play was over with and it was time to move on. I was hoping for one more chance to get it back."
The Celtics spent most of the game in the lane, converting their first 15 points on back-door plays, drives to the basket, dunks, and layups. Davis's 12- to 17-foot jumpers were among the few successful midrange shots the Celtics attempted in the first half. But Davis (12 points) faded from the offensive plans after his last-second drive provided a 50-43 halftime advantage. Davis did not score for the next 23 minutes 56.1 seconds -- and then, his first choice had been to find Paul Pierce.
"Pretty much it was just get it in and get that handoff to [Pierce] and let him go to work," Davis said. "But [Shane] Battier was kind of overplaying him and I couldn't hand it off, so I just took it and kept it and went to work myself.
"I saw Mike Miller and my eyes lit up. It was an obvious mismatch and I just wanted to go at him and make the shot. It's the shot I wanted, pull up and shoot. That's my shot. I am not the go-to guy on the team but I am always willing to take the shot. All day, every game, every shot. I'm always willing and wanting that shot."
The Celtics had momentum and a 5-point lead when they called a timeout with 2:20 remaining. They set up for Davis, who missed, Memphis then cutting the deficit to 87-85 on Jason Williams's 3-pointer. The Celtics had another chance to virtually put the game out of reach, but Gary Payton made one of two foul shots for an 88-85 advantage, Miller then tying the score with a 3-pointer. The Celtics again called a timeout, but this time the play was successful.
"We wanted to try to create the matchup, either with one of the smalls or with Miller because of his fouls," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And we thought he might get a little tentative, even though it was down the stretch. The play was for Ricky to flash to the ball, Paul to come off of the handoff, Ricky fakes it, and then he takes it. So the floor was spaced, more importantly, and Ricky got a great look at it."
The fact that Davis, the Celtics' No. 2 scorer, was held scoreless from the team's last possession of the first half to their final possession of the game indicates either a struggling team or a resourceful one. The Celtics took an 82-78 lead on Tony Allen's follow dunk with 6:19 remaining and did not convert again from the field until Davis's final shot. In fact, Davis's shot was the Celtics' only field goal from outside the lane in the final 14:31 of the game.
"It could have been better but we are in first place," Davis said. "Being in first place is the most important thing. Playing good and winning is great. Now, it's important for guys to rest mentally and physically, and get ready for a long West Coast trip. The first four games could make us or break us."