Sunday, March 10, 2024

Celtics 117, Suns 107: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown top Phoenix despite 45 from Kevin Durant

The Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 117-107 Saturday night at Footprint Center to snap a two-game skid.

Jayson Tatum bounced back from a 15-point performance against the Denver Nuggets to finish with 29 points on 11-of-28 from the field, including 5-of-9 from deep, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the win.
"We're not perfect. We try to be, we really do try," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "But we make mistakes. This is a tough league, the other teams are really good and have great players. It's all about how you respond. You want to be a special team, you've got to do a good job responding. 
"Today, we bounced back in a positive way and got a big win on the road."
Jaylen Brown added 27 points on 10-of-21 from the floor, while Jrue Holiday chipped in 15 points (5-of-7) and six assists to help the C's, who haven't lost three in a row all year, improve to 49-14 overall without Kristaps Porzingis (hamstring).

Kevin Durant had a season-high 45 points (18-of-26) to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the Suns -- playing without Devin Booker (ankle). Bradley Beal scored 25 points, while Bol Bol netted 13 off the bench and Jusuf Nurkic recorded 11 points, 11 rebounds for Phoenix, who fell to 37-27.

Boston never trailed in the second half after a 62-50 advantage at the break and 18 points from Brown in the first 24 minutes. The Suns used a 9-0 spurt to get within three (77-74) with 2:10 left in the third quarter before Holiday knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 10-4 run to take an 87-78 lead into the final frame.

The deficit was as much as 15 for Phoenix in the fourth, but they did get as close as five with 3:55 left to play. Al Horford hit his only three on the night from the left corner (1-of-7), as the C's outscored the hometeam 10-5 the rest of the way.

Boston's second unit edged out the Suns' bench 27-16, with huge contributions from Luke Kornet (14) and Payton Pritchard (10).
"They were amazing, they were tremendous," coach Joe Mazzulla said. "I thought Payton changed the game with his defense."
The Celtics will head to Portland and face the Trail Blazers (18-45) Monday and then to Utah to take on the Jazz (28-36) Tuesday on back-to-back nights.   

Game Notes:

Boston hit 48.9% from the field, including 15-of-39 (38.5%) from 3-point range, while the Suns were 50.6% from the floor and 9-of-31 (29%) from long distance. The Celtics won the rebound (43-41) and the points in the paint (60-56) battle. The C's dished out 29 assists (12 turnovers) on 46 baskets and Phoenix had 21 dimes (15 turnovers) on 44 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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