Final, Suns 110-103: The Celtics suffer their first defeat of the season and one might wonder if it was too much to ask them to run the early-season schedule of eight games in 12 nights without a loss.
Phoenix had way too many open looks from outside and made the most of them. Before this contest, Boston had showcased a huge disparity in the number of 3-pointers they had made and the number their opponents had made, but that was turned upside-down on Friday.
The Celtics finish 4-of-18 from 3-point range, compared to the Suns’ 13-of-24 mark.
Some other notable statistics:
- Kevin Garnett led Boston with a season-high 26 points.
- The C’s were 9-of-18 from the line, including 2-of-6 in the second half.
- Jason Richardson scored 35 to lead Phoenix, making 6-of-7 3’s.
- Rasheed Wallace missed his last four shots and Eddie House his last three as the Celts tried to come back from outside.
Boston has little time to reflect on the loss as they are in New Jersey Saturday night to take on the lowly Nets. We’ll have the action right here so check back then.
Fourth quarter, 16.6 seconds, Suns 107-103: There’s a pulse for the Celtics but they will need to foul someone soon and hope for the best.
Fourth quarter, 50.9 seconds, Suns 107-100: A dagger from Steve Nash has some heading for the exits here.
It appeared as if Boston wanted Nash to get the ball to someone they could put on the line, perhaps Amare Stoudemire, but Nash took his time before lining up his third 3-pointer.
Fourth quarter, 59.9 seconds, Suns 104-100: Not to bore you with the same analysis but the Celtics cannot buy one from long range and it’s killing them.
Rasheed Wallace just had one go all the way in and rattle out.
Fourth quarter, 2:41, Suns 103-98: Prior to picking up his fifth foul, Ray Allen had an emphatic baseline dunk that brought this place to its feet.
Give Phoenix credit, though. It has answered every single Boston run. This time Amare Stoudemire gets a basket to quite the crowd and keep the Celts at bay.
If the Suns hang on they will have won the battle on two lines. They have made 12 3’s to Boston’s four and are 19-of-24 from the charity stripe. The Celts are just 8-of-16 at the line and have missed three straight.
Fourth quarter, 5:11, Suns 98-92: On cue, Ray Allen buries a 3-pointer, only to see Channing Frye convert on the other end.
Fourth quarter, 5:49, Suns 96-89: Rasheed Wallace has consecutive hoops, Steve Nash throws the ball away and the Garden is hopping.
The Celtics lead this game in almost every statistical category (shooting, rebounds, assists, turnovers) but have made just one 3-pointer in the second half. They may need one down the stretch to cut a bit more into this gap.
Fourth quarter, 8:39, Suns 96-85: There’s that guy again. Goran Dragic makes a strip that leads to a free throw for Channing Frye and the Suns are in control.
Phoenix got the game it wanted and the Celtics appeared OK getting dragged into a shootout, but the disparity in 3-point shooting has been the difference.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are back in for Boston.
Fourth quarter, 9:32, Suns 93-85: The Jason Richardson show continues.
Playing against the Celtics’ second unit, Richardson has exploded again here in the fourth. After his sixth 3-pointer (in six tries), he makes a finger roll and gets fouled for a three-point play.
End of third quarter, Suns 85-83: Just like Wednesday in Minnesota, the Celtics are trimming a deficit at a snail’s pace, but trimming it nonetheless.
They close the third quarter on a 17-10 run to get within two but have not held a lead since late in the first.
It could have been tied but Rajon Rondo bricked a pair of free throws with 4.6 seconds left. The Celtics are now 8-of-16 from the line.
Third quarter, 2:38, Suns 81-78: Some nice minutes here for Marquis Daniels in place of the foul-ridden Ray Allen.
In less than eight minutes this quarter, Daniels has five points, two rebounds and an assist.
After a great strip by Kevin Garnett the Celtics had a chance to tie for the first time since 10 minutes remained in the second, but Paul Pierce missed an open 3-point try.
Third quarter, 3:52, Suns 81-75: Another offensive foul called on the Celtics, this time on Paul Pierce, and the Boston bench erupts in anger.
Doc Rivers was at half court screaming at the officials and as animated as you ever see him.
Whistles aside, the Celtics continue to allow Steve Nash to break them down defensively and find open shooters on the perimeter.
Nash also just found himself matched up with Kendrick Perkins on one side of the floor and hit a fadeaway over the 6-11 Perkins.
Third quarter, 6:42, Suns 75-67: Ray Allen was up off the bench screaming at the officials after Marquis Daniels was whistled for a block on a play that was similar to Allen’s, which garnered the sharpshooter a charging call.
Third quarter, 8:54, Suns 67-63: Ray Allen is forced to the bench after picking up his fourth foul, this time on the offensive end.
Marquis Daniels is off the bench for Boston a bit earlier than expected because of it.
Third quarter, Suns 65-59, 10:00: After what may go down as the block of the year (yes, with 74 games to play) by Kendrick Perkins on a soaring Amare Stoudemire, the Suns hit consecutive 3-pointers to serve notice.
Both teams are really going after one another in the early-going of the second. Boston will have to find a way to defend the perimeter a bit better.
Halftime, Suns 57-51: There was some jawing after the horn between Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins for the Celtics and Channing Frye for the Suns. Perkins and Frye were given technicals.
Before that, the teams traded hoops until Paul Pierce found himself in a mismatch with Steve Nash. Pierce missed a short jumper and the deficit is six.
Some notable statistics from the first half:
–Phoenix finished 7-of-10 from 3-point range.
–Garnett has taken 12 shots already.
–Jason Richardson scored 14 points in the first, none in the second.
Stick around for second-half action.
Second quarter, 2:30, Suns 50-45: It was an 8-0 Celtics run before Steve Nash hit two free throws to end it.
This is two straight games in which Boston has trailed much of the first half. It has owned the third quarter at times this season.
Second quarter, 3:33, Suns 48-41: Jared Dudley finally misses one and Paul Pierce capitalizes on the other end.
Before Kevin Garnett and Pierce made back-to-back baskets to spark a quick burst, the Celtics were 3-of-10 in the second quarter.
Garnett just named all six of the “Family Guy” characters on the big screen to win a fan some Celtics gear. He didn’t even hesitate, either.
Second quarter, 5:20, Suns 44-36: Something to keep an eye on as the Suns’ lead continues to grow.
Boston’s biggest deficit all season was 14 points, way back in the first quarter of the opener at Cleveland.
Perhaps it is the effects of playing their seventh game in 11 nights, but the Celts appear as if they might let that deficit get topped here.
Sure enough, Doc Rivers has inserted his starters to stop the bleeding.
Second quarter, 6:01, Suns 44-36: Goran Dragic strikes me as one of those guys you just hate to play against.
Dragic, who seemingly never stops moving, has been involved in a series of scrums for the basketball, not shy about mixing it up with Celtics bigs in both instances.
Second quarter, 7:30, Suns 42-36: Make it 6-of-7 for Phoenix from long range as Jared Dudley makes another, followed soon thereafter by a fast-break layup by Grant Hill.
Dudley has eight points in 11 minutes off the bench, already at his scoring average for the season.
Second quarter, 9:27, Suns 37-32: Jared Dudley, who starred for Boston College, just made a 3-pointer to give Phoenix the lead and a 5-of-6 mark from beyond the arc.
Dudley is now at the line looking to extend the advantage. He does and the Suns are having their way on the offensive end.
End of first quarter, Suns 29-27: As mentioned earlier, Jason Richardson has had some great games against the Celtics and may be on his way to another one here.
Richardson hit his third 3-pointer in as many tries in the final minute and has 14 points at the end of one.
The top two shooting teams in the league are shooting a combined 56.1 percent (23-of-41) from the floor.
It will be interesting to see if the Celtics can win a shootout with the Suns, whom they have limited in the past.
First quarter, 2:58, Suns 22-21: I love when the Celtics run plays out of this double high-post set. It just worked beautifully on back-to-back plays.
In both cases, Ray Allen brings the ball up and passes away before using a Kevin Garnett screen and setting one for Paul Pierce. Allen gets a bit lost in the shuffle and then pops out for an uncontested 3-pointer on one possession and then an easy feed to Garnett for a basket.
Jason Richardson has hit both of his 3-pointers. He has had some good success against Boston in the past, averaging a couple points above his career mark when playing the C’s. Phoenix is shooting 60 percent (9-of-15) overall.
First quarter, 5:58, Celtics 13-11: There have already been six turnovers, and some of the embarrassing variety.
Phoenix has four giveaways, including one seconds before the break that led to an easy Kevin Garnett hoop.
Boston has three steals.
First quarter, 7:04, 11-11: Some slippy back-and-forth play early on. Grant Hill provided a case in point by chucking up an air-ball and following it up with back-to-back baskets.
Kevin Garnett buries a long jumper to give Boston the lead and moments later the Celts lose the inbounds pass and Jason Richardson gets an easy hoop.
First quarter, 11:48, Celtics 1-0: It took all of 12 seconds for Channing Frye to pick up a foul, but Kendrick Perkins made just 1-of-2 from the line and we have the always awkward score of 1-0.
7:42 p.m.: “Crazy Train” is blaring overhead and we are about ready to go. The Suns are in their road orange uniforms.
7:06 p.m.: We’re about 30 minutes from the tip in what should be an entertaining game.
I was a bit late getting to the arena (blame the MBTA) so I missed Doc Rivers’ pregame press conference but there was news that Brian Scalabrine has back spasms and may not play.
Scalabrine was not available the first three games of the season and has played sparingly coming back from a sprained ankle.
Aside from that, it is all systems go for Boston, which tosses out the same starting five we have come to know. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are at guard, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins up front.
The Suns put Steve Nash and Jason Richardson at guard. Grant Hill and Amare Stoudemire are the forwards and Channing Frye is underneath.
The Rondo-Nash matchup is one to watch. Last season, Rondo averaged 27.5 points and 8.5 assists in two games against the Suns. He recorded a career-high 32 points and had 10 assists in the last meeting, a Celtics rout in Phoenix on Feb. 22.
10:55 a.m.: Following a successful, yet inconsistent, two-game road trip, the Celtics aim to stay perfect at TD Garden against Phoenix.I’ll be courtside so check back for pregame chatter leading up to the 7:30 tip and follow all the game action right here.
Boston survived a sluggish outing to get by Minnesota on Wednesday, 92-90. Rajon Rondo scored 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter, and Kevin Garnett foiled his old team with a stellar defensive play in the closing seconds.
The NBA has said it will not penalize Rondo for any of his actions Sunday against Chris Paul and the Hornets. The two shared a pair of trash-talking sessions, but no punches were thrown.
The Boston-Phoenix matchup pits the top two shooting teams in the league, both at 50.1 percent, and two of the top four 3-point shooting teams. The primary difference lies on the other end of the floor, where the Suns allow 26.1 points more than the league-leading Celtics defense.
Phoenix won its first four games before losing at Orlando on Wednesday, 122-100. Amare Stoudemire had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
Stoudemire is one of six Suns to average double figures in scoring.
Boston, which is aiming for the sixth 7-0 start in franchise history, has won three straight meetings with Phoenix by an average of 19.0 points.