Ford Keys to the Game: Suns 103, Celtics 115

Ford Keys to the Game

Suns 103, Celtics 115

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Ray Allen

Kevin Garnett grabs a hold of Paul Pierce after the captain threw down a monstrous dunk on a fast break during Wednesday's win in the Garden.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The Celtics didn’t need to heat up during the first quarter of tonight’s game, because they were already fired up hours before tip off.

Boston and Phoenix had some tension carry over to tonight’s game from their meeting on Jan. 28, and Doc Rivers believes that played a part in his team’s hot start tonight.

“Yeah, I think all our guys were,” Rivers said of his players being motivated to play against the Suns. “That’s what the explosion early was about.”

The explosion he’s alluding to led to a scoring outburst of 32 points in the first quarter compared to just 21 for Phoenix. It all started early on, when the Celtics picked the Suns’ defense apart with precision and got easy bucket after easy bucket.

After Boston fell behind 8-6 in the early moments of the game, the C’s rattled off 10 straight points to flip that two-point deficit into an eight-point lead and force Alvin Gentry to call a timeout for Phoenix. By that time, though, it was already clear that the Suns just weren’t going to stop the offensive juggernaut that Boston is when it plays with total concentration.

During one stretch of that 10-0 burst, the Celtics scored four buckets in a matter of just 55 seconds. Every one of those baskets was either a layup or a dunk, including Paul Pierce’s big slam on a fast break after he stole a pass from Steve Nash. That basket capped the run, but it certainly didn’t cap Boston’s domination.

The C’s continued to pour it on the Suns for the remainder of the first quarter and finished with an 11-point advantage and every drop of momentum. That lead eventually grew to 20 heading into halftime, and to 29 in the third quarter.

Yes, the starters needed to check back in down the stretch to hold onto the lead after the bench gave most of it away, but this game was won in the opening minutes. Boston set the tone tonight with its aggressive offense and precise execution. Phoenix had no chance at stopping the C's, and the Suns might be able to blame themselves for jacking up the Celtics’ intensity heading into this contest.

Rivers responded with the following when asked if the Suns did his team a favor by giving them extra motivation: “Well I don’t know if they did or not, but we were definitely alert. You could see it in the shoot-around. You know, it’s rare that I say, ‘Well, we’re going to play well,’ before a game. Half the time when I say it I’m wrong. So I was right today.”

He certainly was, and with the way this game ended, Phoenix may want to thank the basketball gods for the fact that it doesn’t have to face this Celtic team again until next season.

Key Box Score Line

Six straight double-doubles? Leading the team in shot attempts? Scoring a season-high 28 points? Yep, Kevin Garnett is dialing it up right now.

Boston’s defensive MVP did just about everything Wednesday night in what may have been his best all around game of the season. He tied with Ray Allen for the team-high in shot attempts with 14, and he drilled 12 of them. He also scored a season-high 28 points, which also doubled as the game-high.

But he got it done in plenty of other areas as well. KG pulled in 11 rebounds, including three at the offensive end, dished out three assists and blocked a team-high two shots. Garnett finished with the absurd plus/minus rating of plus-24, which trailed only Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo’s rating of plus-26.

His play has been elevated for a good three weeks now, and it’s doing nothing but get better. That sentence screams two words to the rest of the NBA and its power forwards: Watch out.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Both teams were whistled for two technical fouls.
  • Boston doubled up Phoenix in points in the paint, scoring 52 to the Suns' 26.
  • Phoenix shot 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) from 3-point range.
  • The Celtics outrebounded the Suns 45-33.
  • Kevin Garnett scored a season-high 28 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds.
  • Three Celtics recorded double-doubles.
  • Boston's largest lead was 29 points, while Phoenix's largest lead was two points.
  • Rajon Rondo scored 16 points and dished out 15 assists.
  • Boston and Phoenix attempted 34 and 33 free throws, respectively.
  • Paul Pierce tied Marcin Gortat for the game-high in rebounds with 13. He also scored 16 points.
  • Phoenix's bench outscored its starters 64-40.
  • Ray Allen scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
  • Aaron Brooks came off the bench to lead the Suns in scoring with 17 and tied Steve Nash for the team-high in assists with seven.
  • Rondo's 15 dimes were more than double the amount of any Phoenix player.
  • Boston scored 62 points in the first half, then Phoenix scored 61 points in the second half.
  • Glen Davis scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench for Boston.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on the chatter his players were hearing from Phoenix's bench: "I thought their bench - their coaches were talking, which I don’t think you should ever if you have a suit and tie on and actually can’t play; I don’t think you should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor. It’s just my opinion.”