Fatigue, Frustration Gets the Best of Celtics As Suns Roll to Commanding Win in Phoenix

Fatigue, Frustration Gets the Best of Celtics As Suns Roll to Commanding Win in Phoenix Final, Phoenix 88-71: The Phoenix Suns put pressure on the Celtics key players, and never let up. The frustrations got the better of the Celtics, as Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett were both ejected from this one.

The C's were just outplayed on every level tonight, and the Suns were anchored by a career night from Marcin Gortat, who posted a career-high 19 points, in addition to adding 17 rebounds.

It was clear fatigue played a role in this loss, but it was more than that. The Celtics let the Suns take the lead early, and never found the consistency or drive to get it back. While it's a frustrating loss, the Celtics have to put it behind them to focus on the upcoming matchup with the rivaled Lakers.The Sunday afternoon is coming up quickly, but the Celtics at least have a day to rest before the game in Los Angeles.

Fourth Quarter, 1:33, Phoenix 86-69: There have been more ugly three pointers tonight from the Celtics than we have seen in a long time. Semih Erden just attempted one — for the record, Erden has yet to make a three pointer in his rookie campaign.

Fourth Quarter, 4:07, Phoenix 84-69: Frye and Garnett's first technicals offset one another, while Garnett's second technical resulted in the ejection. Garnett, Perkins and Robinson's technicals resulted in the three free throws for Nash, while Frye gets three as well since he was fouled by Garnett while shooting.

Nash and Frye each sink two.

Fourth Quarter, 4:07, Phoenix 80-69: Kevin Garnett is given two technical fouls and a personal foul. Garnett is livid while listening to the refs explanation clearly asking "are you kidding me?" Garnett has been ejected, joining Rivers in the locker room.

Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and Channing Frye also receive technical fouls, and Steve Nash lines up at the free throw line for three free throws.

Channing Frye shoots three free throws as well.

Fourth Quarter, 4:07, Phoenix 80-69: Looks like Kevin Garnett gave a little below the belt punch to Channing Frye, resulting in a full-court tussle between the Celtics and the Suns.

The refs are trying to figure out what to call on Garnett, as it was obviously a foul, but what do you call it. It was clearly aimed for Frye's groin area, and Garnett connected. You can guarantee all the men watching that game gave a collective cringe watching that one.

Fourth Quarter, 4:53, Phoenix 80-69:
We get it, you're excited about a little spark in your step, Nate Robinson, but that's no excuse to throw up an ugly three pointer without even looking to see who's open around you. And Gortat scores another layup, so we're back in double digits again.

Fourth Quarter, 5:36, Phoenix 78-67: Finally the C's capitalize on a Suns' turnover, as Nate Robinson knocks down a deep two pointer to bring them within a single-digit deficit.

Fourth Quarter, 5:52, Phoenix 78-67: The Celtics had the opportunity to make it a single-digit game, and Marquis Daniels flubs it up as he commits an offensive foul.

Fourth Quarter, 6:12, Phoenix 78-66: 
If there's any Celtic we want getting hot right now, it's Ray Allen. The lights-out three point shooter just nailed a three from the top of the arc, leading to a full timeout by the Suns.

Fourth Quarter, 7:09, Phoenix 76-64: Garnett and Pietrus have some heated words, as a pick set by Garnett results in Pietrus' elbow in KG's throat. The two have words, with Pietrus claiming he didn't do anything. Nonetheless, KG gets two free throws.

Fourth Quarter, 7:32, Phoenix 78-60:
We're almost at a 20-point deficit, as the Celtics give up their 15th turnover. Phoenix has an equal amount, with 15 TOs as well, but the Celtics can't capitalize on theirs.

Fourth Quarter, 8:17, Phoenix 77-60: Another turnover, following another huge three pointer from the Suns, this time by Pietrus. Everything is falling for Phoenix, which only elevates the Celtics' frustrations.

Fourth Quarter, 9:30, Phoenix 75-58: Nate Robinson checks in with some motivating words for his teammates, trying to get something started — but it may be too little too late.

Von Wafer and Grant Hill each take a beating as Hill cleanly blocks Wafer's drive on net. Looks like Wafer was hit in the eye, while Hill looks to be hurting all over.

End of Third Quarter, Phoenix 75-58: Marquis Daniels takes a charge — maybe it can charge their efforts?

Nope, they give up another turnover on the offensive end. They'll be looking for a completely re-energized effort in the fourth, which won't be easy considering their obvious fatigue.

Third Quarter, 1:26, Phoenix 73-58: Paul Pierce knows how to take this team on his back when it comes to scoring, and he has the last five points for the C's, but they have to pick it up on defense. They can't regain any ground if they're allowing points on the opposite end.

Third Quarter, 2:17, Phoenix 70-54: The Suns are not letting up, and the Celtics can't seem to break their consistency. Vince Carter nails a three pointer, leading to the Celtics calling a full timeout.

Third Quarter, 3:41, Phoenix 65-54: This is the game Paul Pierce knows how to play, and he should keep playing it if the Celtics want to stay in this game. Drive to the net, drive to the net, drive to the net. Pierce draws a foul on Gortat, his third personal.

Third Quarter, 4:47, Phoenix 65-50: It's being reported that Glen Davis is out for the third quarter with a hamstring injury. No further details, yet, and there was no dramatic exit for Big Baby.

Third Quarter, 5:45, Phoenix 60-48:
Part of the Celtics problem might not be the fact that their fatigued, but also the fact that the Suns aren't playing their normal style of basketball. They're playing tough defense, and not running their fast-paced offense.

Third Quarter, 8:36, Phoenix 60-45: Ray Allen hits a three pointer, but the Phoenix Suns just keep pouring it on. Hakim Warrick throws down an other wide open dunk, extinguishing any hopes for a point streak. 

Third Quarter, 9:49, Phoenix 54-38: The Celtics scored a season-low 35 points in the first half. How do you remedy that? Change everything about your attack on the game.

Phoenix isn't slowing, unfortunately, as Vince Carter and Channing Frye hit three pointers to open the third. 

End of Second Quarter Phoenix 49-35: That's not the way they were hoping to end the half. The C's hope to give the ball to Von Wafer or Ray Allen for a final three in the last possession, but it ends up in the hands of Garnett, who airs a shot from beyond the arc.

The C's really need to regroup here, and hopefully their frustrations will translate into anger and they'll bounce back in this second half. 

Second Quarter, 1:45, Phoenix 49-33: The fatigue has to be affecting the C's. They are getting outscored and outplayed at every position. The C's bench is getting outscored by the Suns' bench by 16 points.

Second Quarter, 2:48, Phoenix, 46-31: All is not right with the world when Ray Allen misses two free throws. Luckily, Nate Robinson collected the offensive rebound, and Kendrick Perkins sunk a short jumper from the point.

Second Quarter, 3:13, Phoenix 46-29: Rondo falls hard on his right hip, but he seems to be alright. He already has three fouls in this one, however.

On the Rivers front: Lawrence Frank told the Celtics during a timeout that despite the bad call that sent Rivers to the locker room, they need to focus on the task at hand — and that's recovering from this early deficit.

Second Quarter, 4:33, Phoenix 40-25: The issues keep piling up for the C's. After getting called for a technical foul, Doc argued and was sent packing to the locker room. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank will take over on the sidelines.

Second Quarter, 5:22, Phoenix 40-25:
Gortat isn't stopping. He just sunk identical jumpers in back-to-back possessions. He has 15 on the night already, tripling his season average.

Pierce has responded with a three since he's returned, but the Celtics aren't putting all their pieces together here.

Second Quarter, 7:23, Phoenix 36-23: Rondo and Pierce are back in the mix to hopefully spark some offense, but it's the defense that needs work. Mickael Pietrus just took advantage of the open floor and dunked from one-foot away.

Second Quarter, 7:51, Phoenix 34-21: Big Baby blocks a shot by Warrick, but the Suns' forward gets him back when he deflects the ball off Davis out of bounds — Phoenix possession.

Second Quarter, 9:02, Phoenix 34-19: This is just looking sloppy. After the ball is knocked away from Marquis Daniels, he throws up a buzzer beater three from beyond the arc — it does not go in.

Second Quarter, 10:20, Phoenix 32-19:
Shaq started the second quarter as well, and even though Marcin Gortat is 6-foot-11, he looks like a twig next to Shaq.

Meanwhile, Nate Robinson airs a rather rushed effort from the arc.

Second Quarter, 11:26, Phoenix 32-19:
The secondary squad is out on the floor, and while they're generating a bit of offense, the Suns are still running and gunning on their end.

End of First Quarter, Phoenix 30-16:
Gortat hits a huge three at the end of the quarter to put the Suns up by 14. This is the 6-foot-11 center that averages 5.9 points per game. He already has 11 points tonight.

First Quarter, 0:33, Phoenix 25-14: This is going to be a dog fight for the C's, especially if they don't pick it up soon. The Suns aren't an easy team to beat, despite their middle of the road record.

First Quarter, 1:57, Phoenix 25-14: Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels come off the Celtics bench as Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce take a breather. Ray Allen is the only starter out on the floor, with Semih Erden and Glen Davis as well.

First Quarter, 3:07, Phoenix 21-12: Rajon Rondo picks up his second foul as he drives into Gortat, and is called for an offensive foul.

First Quarter, 4:57, Phoenix 21-12:
Steve Nash is proving why he's one of the top point guards of all-time. He just finds the guys at the right time. Marcin Gortat takes a clean lob from Nash in the paint for his first points of the night. Nash follows up with a clean look for Jared Dudley at the elbow.

First Quarter, 5:36, Phoenix 15-10: Celtics give up their first turnover, as Hakim Warrick breaks up a pass to Ray Allen, he snaps it down the court to Grant Hill, who misses the initial layup, but it's slammed home by Robin Lopez.

KG responds on the opposite end with a dunk of his own.

First Quarter, 7:59, Phoenix 7-6: Celtics took a quick lead there with a KG jumper from the elbow, but Vince Carter nailed two free throws on the opposite to regain a one-point lead.

First Quarter, 9:23, Phoenix 5-4: Shaq is already out of this one, with Kendrick Perkins coming off the bench. Shaq picked up his first personal foul, it's clear that the Suns will continue to run at him as long as he's on the floor.

An interesting tidbit, however, was the fan's reaction whenever Shaq touched the ball. Even when he collected an Suns' airball, the crowd went wild for the Shaqtus.

10:30: Shaquille O'Neal steps out onto the court and wraps Vince Carter in a big bear hug. He's out on the court with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

10:29 p.m.: Hearing reports that the Celtics didn't check into their Phoenix hotel until 4:30 a.m., this morning. Here's hoping they got enough rest during the day to prepare for the fiery attack from the Steve Nash-led Suns.

The point guard matchup of Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash will definitely be an intriguing one, and we'll keep an eye on that throughout the game.

10:25 p.m.: Though Shaq will return to the floor tonight, don't expect to see much of him. According to head coach Doc Rivers, Shaq will see limited minutes against the Suns.

10:19 p.m.:
The pregame question has been answered, Paul Pierce will start against the Celtics, as will Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq has missed the last three games with hip soreness, but he's ready to go against his former team that fondly knew him as "The Shaqtus."

10:15 p.m.: The C's are coming off a tough battle with the Blazers, and now have to turn around in less than 24 hours to match up in Phoenix. It won't be easy, especially with all the bruising from the game in Portland. We're still waiting on the update from Pierce.

7:45 p.m.: After knocking knees with a member of the Blazers on Thursday, Paul Pierce is labeled as questionable for Friday night's matchup in Phoenix.

Pierce has a thigh bruise on his right leg, and though it's not serious, head coach Doc Rivers says the team doesn't need any more injuries to worry about.

Plus, he'll want to keep Pierce as healthy as possible for Sunday's matchup against the Lakers.

Pierce will be reevaluated before tip off, and will be a game-time decision.

8 a.m.: If you look at the standings and the numbers alone, you would think the Celtics have this one in the bag, no problem. Not so fast.

Though the Celtics are on a roll, winning seven of their last eight matchups, and are riding high on the return of Kendrick Perkins, they can't take the matchup with the middle-of-the-road Suns lightly.

The Suns are in the midst of a five-game homestand, while the Celtics are just kicking off their first legitimate west coast trip of the season. It doesn't help that the C's had a less-than 24-hour turnaround from Portland on Thursday to play in Phoenix on Friday.

Nonetheless, the Celtics had a solid showing against the Blazers, and set a physical tone for their three-game swing out west. They can't use up all their grit against the Suns, however, since they cap this trip with a Sunday afternoon clash with the rivaled Lakers.

On a more optimistic note, Shaquille O'Neal should be returning to action after missing three games with hip soreness. That means the return of Shaqtus to the U.S. Airways Center.

Tipoff is at 10:30 p.m.

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