Thursday, February 20, 2014

Suns 100 – Celtics 94: C’s get eclipsed late in the fourth

Phoenix – It was seven years ago when Gerald Green last suited up for Boston, what seemed like a lifetime ago, he has now found a home in the valley of the sun and his 6-for-14 shooting last night contributed to beating his former team 100-94 at US Airways Center.

It had been exactly a week since the Celtics played their last game. The Suns were coming off an overtime victory in the mile high city Tuesday night and responded well at home. Six Phoenix players scored in double figures despite 35-percent first half shooting and 18 turnovers for the game.

Markieff Morris led the home team with 18 points while Green and Goran Dragic added 17 a piece, and Channing Frye chipped in with 15 points to help the cause.

“It’s tough on back-to-back games, especially last night when we played overtime and we got home late,” explained Dragic. “It’s just sometimes your legs don’t react as fast, you think ‘I have to do that’ but your legs think kind of slow. In the end, when it was time to pick it up, we did our jobs.”

Rajon Rondo had another double-double, scoring 18 points and handing out 10 assists. While trade rumors have been swirling around Brandon Bass and Jeff Green, they might have played their last game as Celtics, each contributed with 18 and 17 points. Even with the fatigue factor, Phoenix had a 30-8 advantage in fast break points.

“You can’t make errors against them because they are coming, they are coming fast,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “For all of us from the northeast that traces down here, we can agree that they're the team that pushes it harder than any team we saw on film.”

The Celtics never led in the first 24 minutes. Even though Boston converted 14 Phoenix turnovers into 18 points and by halftime were only down 52-50. Boston started the third quarter on a 16-4 run to take the lead 66-56 but the Suns went on to score 12 straight points on their way to a 15-1 run capped off with a 32-foot buzzer beater by P.J. Tucker to end the third.

“Tonight the third quarter was like our best start,” said Bass, who made three straight jumpers to start the second half. “At the end of the third, they made their run. They did what they do best. They got into transition.”

The fourth quarter began with the Celtics down 76-71; Rondo made four consecutive mid-range jumpers and found Kelly Olynyk in the corner for a 3-pointer to cut Phoenix’s lead to 88-86 with 3:59 to play.

With Boston already in the penalty early in the quarter, the Suns made four of the next six free throws to go up 92-86.

After Gerald Wallace made a few from the charity stripe and Channing Frye broke a five-minute drought without a single field goal streak for Phoenix by hitting a three with 1:20 remaining it made it a 95-88 lead. Jeff Green converted two free throws after being fouled by Tucker with 30 seconds left to cut the lead 97-94.

On the next possession Dragic missed a reversed layup, and Rondo missed a driving layup on the other end, and Jared Sullinger got the rebound but missed the put back.

Gerald Green grabbed the rebound and made two more free throws to ice the game with 10.9 seconds left.

“The bottom line is that that period of time, late-third, early fourth, changed the complexion of the game,” said Stevens.

Boston is off until tomorrow when they head Los Angeles to take on the depleted Lakers. They look to even the season series, as this will be a nationally televised game on ESPN. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm from the Staples Center.

Game Notes:

Avery Bradley and Vitor Faverani did not make the west coast trip; it is unknown exactly when the two will re-join the team due to their respective injuries. Jared Sullinger limped off the court with 10.9 seconds left in the fourth, so far no word if he is going to miss any time or if he was injured when he fouled Gerald Green.

Joel Pavón    

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