With Kristaps Porzingis out and Jayson Tatum off his game for most of Saturday’s contest, the Celtics needed their role players to step up against the Phoenix Suns.

Luke Kornet, much to the delight of his head coach, rose to the occasion at Footprint Center.

Kornet posted his highest point total (14) since Dec. 29 and pulled down six rebounds in Boston’s 117-107 win, which prevented the visitors from suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season. But while the veteran big man was efficient on the offensive end, he was even better on defense.

This wasn’t much of a surprise to Joe Mazzulla, who saluted Kornet for his sound defensive game after the second contest on Boston’s West Coast road trip.

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“He’s one of the best at our defensive system,” Mazzulla told reporters, per MassLive. “He has an innate ability to communicate matchups, change matchups and change his coverage. … So he’s just got an innate ability to communicate our defensive system. But also make the right read defensively. It’s an under-appreciated skill Luke has to be able to do that, and that’s why we trust him defensively.”

Frontcourt depth was one of the few areas of concern for the Celtics heading into the season. While Kornet isn’t a world-beater by any stretch, he’s proving to be a capable reinforcement for Mazzulla whenever his number is called.

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