Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/8

Game 1: Friday, December 8th
Suns116Final
Celtics111
Game 2: Wednesday, February 21st
Celtics108Final
Suns118

Suns 116

(12-6, 4-4 away)

Celtics 111

(5-13, 3-8 home)

    7:30 PM ET, December 8, 2006

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 35 24 21 36116
    BOS 33 21 27 30111

    Top Performers

    PHX: S. Marion 29 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

    Bos: P. Pierce 36 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk

    Suns top Celtics to extend winning streak to nine games

    BOSTON (AP) -- A night after needing two overtimes to escape New Jersey with a win, the last thing the Phoenix Suns wanted was another extra session.

    So with their game against the Boston Celtics coming down to the wire yet again, the Suns buckled down and played their best basketball of the night when it mattered most Friday night.

    Shawn Marion scored 29 points and Steve Nash added 16 points and 14 assists to help Phoenix extend its winning streak to nine games with a 116-111 victory over the Celtics.

    "I'm glad we got it over with in regulation," Marion said. "We're all logging a lot of minutes, but sometimes you just got to throw it out the window and get it done. And we did."

    After back-to-back baskets by Paul Pierce and Delonte West gave Boston a 102-101 lead with 3:41 to go, Phoenix scored on its last seven possessions. Marion's 3-pointer from the corner put Phoenix up 104-102 with 3:16 left, and Amare Stoudemire followed with a layup.

    Al Jefferson pulled Boston to within 110-108 with 1:15 remaining, but the Celtics never got closer. Nash made a 17-foot jumper, then assisted on Marion's jumper to put the game out of reach.

    "They don't miss shots," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "They made some tough shots, and all was set up by one guy -- Steve Nash. He's just an amazing player to watch."

    Pierce scored 36 points for Boston, and Ryan Gomes and Tony Allen added 18 apiece. The Celtics have lost five straight and seven of eight.

    Raja Bell and Boris Diaw each added 14 points for Phoenix, which was coming off a 161-157 double-overtime victory over the Nets on Thursday night. The Suns, who have won 11 of 12 after starting the season 1-5, won despite tying a season high with 21 turnovers and allowing 18 second-chance points.

    "We kind of stole one tonight," Nash said. "We were a little tired, a little sloppy and mentally fatigued. But we stepped up and made the right decisions and plays when it counted."

    After spending the day in their hotel room and skipping shootaround to recover from Thursday night, Phoenix got off to a quick start. The Suns shot 59 percent in the first quarter to take a 35-33 lead behind 10 points from Marion and nine from Stoudemire.

    Phoenix then extended its lead to 59-54 by halftime before the fatigue set in.

    Pierce scored 25 in the first half to keep the game close, and Sebastian Telfair scored 12 of his 14 points in the third quarter. The Celtics forced eight Phoenix turnovers in the third while holding the Suns to 21 points to take a 79-71 lead late in the period.

    But Phoenix responded with a 9-2 run to end the third, then pulled away in the fourth by shooting 71 percent and committing only one turnover.

    Nash had five assists in the fourth as Phoenix outscored Boston 36-30 in the period.

    "I like the way we played tonight," Pierce said. "We turned them over a lot, but the difference was our defense once again. We couldn't get the stops we needed."

    Game notes


    Boston forward Wally Szczerbiak missed his second game with a sprained left ankle. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Szczerbiak could return in time for Monday's game in New York. Allen started in his place. ... It was the eighth straight game the Suns outscored their opponent in the first quarter. ... Phoenix has won five straight in Boston since a 109-102 overtime loss on Dec. 7, 2001. ... Nash has 59 assists in his last four games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    PHX
    BOS
    Points 116 111
    FGM-FGA 43-71 (.606) 42-98 (.429)
    3PM-3PA 9-20 (.450) 9-23 (.391)
    FTM-FTA 21-24 (.875) 18-24 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-40 17-38
    Assists 32 24
    Turnovers 21 11
    Steals 6 8
    Blocks 6 2
    Fast Break Points 9 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (2/0) 23 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 6 8

    Top Performers

    Phoenix
    Boston
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 29
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 3
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 36
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1