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NBA Walker sparks Celtics to victory

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Fighting off the flu, he scored 33 points and 11 rebounds in a 96-89 win over Memphis.
BOSTON (AP) -- Antoine Walker showed that his play can dictate the team's future.
Walker, battling the flu the past few days, had 33 points, 11 rebounds six assists as the Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday with a 96-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I felt very good once I got going," said Walker, who was sidelined for the second half of a loss in Orlando on Saturday by the flu. "I just felt good running the court, and I was in a rhythm."
Sparked key run
Walker scored nine points in a decisive 18-4 run that punctuated the third quarter, including a 3-pointer on a buzzer-beater from the top of the key.
Boston, which lost by 36 points at New Jersey and by 20 at Miami before falling to the Magic, overcame a slow start.
"We caught ourselves earlier this time," Paul Pierce said. "We have to pick ourselves up from the start. I hate to see us go down by 10 points in the first quarter."
After the game, the Celtics officially introduced a collection of local business people, part of the franchise's new ownership group that was approved Tuesday, after a $360-million deal was announced Sept. 27.
"Today is a day for celebration, not for comment on basketball operations," said Wyc Grousbeck, one of two venture capitalists who heads the group.
Walter McCarty added 16 points, Pierce 15 and Tony Delk 11 for the Celtics.
Ends losing streak
Boston coach Jim O'Brien was glad to see the team's three-game losing streak end.
"Was the losing streak trouble?" he said. "Damn straight it was trouble. But our guys know what makes a team that can compete and be a playoff team -- and that's to bring the defensive effort."
Pau Gasol led the Grizzlies with 18 points. Gordan Giricek had 17, Lorenzen Wright 15 and Shane Battier 11. Memphis dropped to 1-13 on the road this season, worst among teams in the Western Conference.
"We can't be happy with close," Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. "We're trying to get past being close. Earlier in the year, we were happy with close because we were trying to close the gap. This game was winnable, and that's we're upset about."
The Grizzlies led 67-64 midway through the third quarter before the Celtics took charge with an 18-4 run.
Walker started the run with a free throw and Pierce hit a pair from the line to tie the game. Boston then took the lead for good on Walker's layup.
After Shammond Williams hit a jumper, Walker made a 3-pointer. Williams followed with a 3-pointer just 43 seconds later, making it 77-69. Following Drew Gooden's dunk, Walker hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the horn sounded.
Memphis closed within 84-77 early in the final quarter, but Boston built its lead to 96-81 on a 3-pointer by McCarty.
Boston led 51-47 at the half after trailing by 10 points early in the first quarter.