PHOENIX (AP) -- Stephon Marbury split his game into two parts --
the first three quarters, and the all-important fourth.
The All-Star point guard had nine assists but just eight points
in the first 36 minutes against Boston. Then he shifted gears --
scoring 12 points down the stretch as the Phoenix Suns pulled away
for a 102-92 win over the road-weary Celtics on Sunday night.
They outscored Boston 25-13 in the final period.
"In the third quarter, we picked up our intensity big-time,''
Marbury said. "Especially going late into the third quarter, and
then we just carried it over into the fourth. I think the
difference was we just made shots.''
"It was a must-win situation,'' Stoudemire said. "Everybody
had to come out and play 100 percent, especially on defense. We
locked it down in the fourth quarter, and that was the key.''
The Celtics, who played Saturday night, are 0-3 in the second
game of back-to-backs.
But coach Jim O'Brien didn't buy the exhaustion theory.
"They just outplayed us in the fourth quarter,'' O'Brien said.
"It had nothing to do with gas.''
In a tight contest that featured 21 lead changes in the first
three quarters, the Celtics led by a point after each.
But after Pierce gave Boston an 86-82 lead on a 3-pointer with
10:08 left in the game, Marion made a short jumper and then passed
to Joe Johnson for a three-point play with 8:09 left. That put the
Suns ahead 87-86 for the final lead change.
Marbury, who had 12 assists, kept the run going with two free
throws and two baskets, and Marion sank a 20-footer for a 95-89
lead with 4:35 remaining -- just three seconds after Pierce made
what wound up as Boston's next-to-last basket.
Johnson, who had 16 points, had a 3-pointer that gave Phoenix a
98-89 lead with 3:49 to go, and Marion made a 7-foot leaner for a
100-90 lead with 1:28 left.
"I liked the fact that we only had eight turnovers, and then
how we finished the game,'' Suns coach Frank Johnson said. "To
hold them to 13 points in the fourth quarter was big for us.''
Stoudemire brought gasps from the crowd during a 9-2 spurt by
the Suns when he dribbled behind his back crossing the lane for a
layup, and Phoenix went ahead 23-15 on Jake Voskuhl's two free
throws with 4:13 left in the first quarter.
The Celtics regained the lead, 26-25, on Delk's jumper with 1:03
left in the period.
That was the first of 12 lead changes in the next 13 baskets
before Stoudemire's jump hook and a 3-pointer by Johnson in a
40-second span opened a 49-44 lead with 2:52 to play in the second.
Boston finished the quarter with a 9-3 surge, and took its
biggest lead, 68-59, when Walker made two 3-pointers and a jump
hook in the first 5:38 of the third.
The Suns recovered to lead twice, but Delk made his second
3-pointer of the quarter with 24 seconds left for a 79-77 Boston
lead, and Stoudemire missed his second free throw in the waning
seconds to leave the Celtics ahead.
"In the last couple of games, we were able to put together a
number of stops, and we weren't able to do that today,'' Pierce
said. "Marbury did a great job controlling the game.''
McCarty made his fourth straight start at center while Tony
Battie continued to ail from the flu. ... McCarty reached 1,000
career rebounds with the second of his eight. ... The Suns are 10-3
when Bo Outlaw starts at center. ... The Suns have had five
consecutive 100-point games for the first time since February 2000.
... Phoenix beat the Celtics 103-94 in Boston on Dec. 11.