Things were looking good for the Boston Celtics midway through the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Boston led by 10 points, its largest lead of the game, after opening up the second half on a 16-6 run.
This was all happening on the US Airways Center court, where the Suns had won 17 of their 26 games on the season prior to Wednesday night. They didn’t want to fall on their home court, so they did something about it.
Phoenix finished the third quarter on a fury. It poured in 12 points in the final 138 seconds of the quarter and finished the third on a 15-1 run overall. Phoenix shot 6-of-6 from the field during the run, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Marcus Morris from 32 feet out.
Morris’ shot from just inside halfcourt put all of the momentum in Phoenix’s corner. The Suns led by five points heading into the fourth and quickly upped that lead to 10 points by scoring the first five points of the final frame.
This game did come down to the wire, but it was solely because of ill-advised fouls from Phoenix's P.J. Tucker. His poor decisions gave the Celtics six free points in the final 70 seconds of the game. The Suns held the Celtics off in the final minute for a 100-94 victory, but this game was really won at the end of the third quarter.
Key Box Score Line
Don’t let Rajon Rondo’s 7-of-22 shooting performance fool you. He played a great game Wednesday night in Phoenix.
Fresh off of six days of rest, Boston’s star point guard was absolutely dazzling at times during Boston’s loss to the Suns. He tied Brandon Bass and Markieff Morris for the game high in the scoring column with 18 points and also dished out a game-high 10 assists.
Had it not been for Rondo’s passing, Bass likely wouldn’t have garnered a mention in such a light; the point guard assisted on three of the big man’s seven baskets on the night. Rondo’s 10 helpers were dished out while he committed just three turnovers.
Rondo also contributed seven rebounds and showed lights-out shooting at times. He made four of his five midrange shots on the night, including a stretch of three straight that got the Celtics back into the game midway through the fourth quarter. He struggled to finish from close range, shooting just 3-of-15 in the painted area, but we all know he can finish around the rim. The fact that he shot the ball so consistently from the perimeter is what really mattered.
Wednesday’s all-around performance by Rondo helped him rack up the game’s top plus/minus rating of plus-16. He was a difference maker while he was on the floor, but the Celtics couldn’t maintain their play while he was on the bench.
Box Score Nuggets
- Three players (Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, Markieff Morris) tied for the game high in scoring with 18 points apiece.
- The Celtics were outscored by 10 points during Kris Humphries' 11-plus minutes of playing time.
- P.J. Tucker was the only player in the game to grab more than eight rebounds. He finished with 11.
- Phil Pressey was the only Celtics player to appear in the game and not score a point.
- Phoenix attempted 24 shots in the first quarter but only 58 over the final three quarters.
- Six Suns scored in double-figures, including four who tallied at least 15 points.
- Rondo dished out a game-high 10 assists.
- Phoenix committed 14 turnovers in the first half but only four in the second half.
- Both teams led by double-digits at some point during the game.
- The Suns scored 24 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
- Both teams grabbed 46 rebounds.
- Phoenix scored an impressive 30 fast break points, compared to Boston's eight.
- Rondo shot just 3-of-15 in the paint.
- Gerald Wallace grabbed a game-high four steals.
- Bass and Jared Sullinger each blocked two shots, which was one shy of Miles Plumlee's game-high three blocks.
Quote of the Night
The bottom line is that that period of time, late-third, early-fourth, changed the complexion of the game. Brad Stevens on Phoenix's run to close the third quarter and open the fourth