Rapid Reaction: Celtics 87, Suns 79
THE NITTY GRITTY
On the one-year anniversary of his heart surgery, Jeff Green scored a team-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, sparking both a second-quarter outburst with a pair of loud dunks and a dazzling bench effort for Boston's reserves. Rookie Jared Sullinger registered his second career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds (also an individual season high for the Celtics). Sullinger was a game-best plus-24 in plus/minus and remains the team leader in that category for the season. Kevin Garnett (10 points) was the only starter in double figures as the second unit carried the Celtics. The Celtics limited the Suns to 39.3 percent shooting (33-of-84 overall), including a mere 16.7 percent (2-of-12) beyond the 3-point arc. Luis Scola (16 points, 8 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Jared Dudley (14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) paced the Suns.
The Celtics should have had the game in hand after Green's second-quarter dunkfest triggered a 14-2 run. Up a point, Green blew past Michael Beasley before dunking hard over old friend Jermaine O'Neal. After a Garnett steal, Avery Bradley delivered an alley-oop lob that Green slammed down in transition. Green added an 18-foot jumper and a layup as Boston's lead ballooned to 47-35 with 4:25 to play in the first half. The Celtics' starters fumbled the lead away to start the second half, but the bench picked them up again.
Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo each picked up technical fouls. Rivers got his second of the year for barking at referee Josh Tiven about a non-call during Phoenix's third-quarter run. Rondo (from the bench) and P.J. Tucker (from the court) were assessed double technicals at the start of the fourth quarter. That's Rondo's fourth technical of the season.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics now own a season-high four-game winning streak. Boston came out sluggish in both halves, but the bench picked them up. Jason Terry joined Sullinger and Green in double figures (13 points on 6-of-8 shooting), while Courtney Lee might have gotten Boston out of its third-quarter funk with a strong drive to the rim after the Suns actually rallied ahead in the frame. The Celtics host the Houston Rockets on Friday night (with three more home games looming next week against Charlotte, New Orleans and Chicago as part of this five-game homestand).
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