Friday, March 15, 2024

Celtics 127, Suns 112: Jaylen Brown's 37 points, 3-point shooting lead C's past Phoenix

Despite being short handed, Boston's 25 made three-pointers fueled the Celtics' 127-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday night at TD Garden to stretch their win streak to four.

Starting in place of the injured Kristaps Porzingis (hamstring strain), Al Horford's six three-pointers contributed to a dominant effort on both ends against one of the league's top trios. Coming off a back injury and missing the team's win over the Jazz on Tuesday, Brown showed no rust in his 37-point effort on 14-of-23 from the field and 5-of-9 from deep. 
"I don't know how we did it. He torched us" said Horford during his postgame comments, giving props to the C's defense on Kevin Durant after dropping 45 against them last Saturday.  Credit to JT, JB, Jrue, the guys that were guarding him made it tough on him."
Jayson Tatum added 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3-point territory with Horford tallying a season-high 24 points on 6-of-10 from behind the arc. Holiday (nine points) led the team with 10 assists to help Boston become the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth this season.

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 23 points on 20 shot attempts and seven assists. Bradley Beal finished with 22 points, seven assists, while Kevin Durant scored 20 on 9-of-19 from the floor and Grayson Allen also recorded 20 points for the Suns -- who dropped to 38-28 out west.

As expected, there was plenty of scoring from both teams early on, as neither were able to create much separation. With another strong start by Durant (15 points), the Suns' offense got rolling, but Boston responded. Stealing the ball from Durant at the top of the key, Horford went coast-to-coast, finishing a layup at the other end to jump start the Celtics' offense.

Tatum answered the call, scoring nine straight points, as the Celtics' defense picked up late, fueling the team's 12-4 run in the final three minutes of the opening quarter. With a big steal late, Pritchard dished it out to Tatum for an easy transition dunk, and knocked down a three at the top of the key on the next possession.

Boston wasted no time to build off their momentum, with Jaylen Brown driving to the basket and finishing a tough left hand layup in traffic for an and-one. Despite Durant being on the bench, Phoenix's second unit put together a 10-2 run at the start of the second quarter to neutralize Boston's offense with threes from Bol Bol and Grayson Allen.

Although the Celtics stayed ahead a majority of the second, Bol Bol's 10 points in the quarter, paired with Phoenix's offensive rebounding, led to Boston having difficulty making stops. Luckily Brown was on a mission in the second quarter, scoring 15 points alone in the period. Tatum (23 points) capped off the first half with a series of pull up threes over Durant in the final minute on consecutive possessions -- that got the Garden to erupt.

With a 65-60 advantage at the break, Boston went on a quick 11-0 run to start the third frame, only for the Suns to match it with a 7-0 spurt of their own, before the C's responded with a series of plays to extend their lead to 13. After Brown drained a three in the corner, Holiday on the other end stripped Beal, sprinted up the court and knocked down a pull up three.

Behind Horford's eight third quarter points, the Celtics continued to pour it on from three -- connecting on eight of them and sparking a 17-3 run to take a 17-point lead into the fourth while limiting Durant to just three points since the first period.

Brown scored another seven points in the final frame, including an electric on-handed slam dunk on a lazy inbound pass from Allen that put the Celtics up 124-106 with 2:58 left to play, as the Garden faithful got on its feet, and both teams emptied their benches following a Phoenix timeout.

After improving to an NBA-best 52-14, Brown gave credit to the coaching staff for keeping the team focused on achieving their ultimate goal this season -- winning a championship.
"We've been very well coached, we've been disciplined. We haven't had so many lapses this season," said Brown in his postgame presser. "I feel like we've been a focused team, a smarter team."
Boston hopes to carry their recent success Sunday night on the road against the Washington Wizards (11-55), in a 6:00 pm ET tip-off. 

Game Notes:

The Suns dominated Boston on the offensive boards, with a 19-6 advantage. Phoenix won the overall rebound battle 51-33 and outscored the home team 50-40 in the paint. Boston was 25-of-50 (50%) from long distance, while the Suns were 11-of-31 (35.5%) on 3-pointers. The Celtics also finished with 12 steals -- forcing 14 total turnovers compared to the Suns' four, while turning the ball over 14 times.

Ian Carrano

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

No comments:

Post a Comment