Keys to the Game
Isaiah Thomas had another big game (35 points) but a few mistakes in the final seconds cost the Celtics.
Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty

Keys to the Game: Celtics 106, Suns 109

Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

Isaiah Thomas has built a well-deserved reputation as the King of the Fourth, but he managed to make two critical mistakes in the final seconds on Sunday that cost the Celtics what would have been a comeback win in Phoenix.

Thomas, who’s usually automatic at the charity stripe, missed a free throw in the final seconds that kept the game at a two-point lead. After Eric Bledsoe beat Jae Crowder off the dribble for a game-tying lay-up, Thomas then fumbled the inbounds pass, and the Suns canned a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Celtics in dramatic fashion.

Then again, without Thomas’s 4th quarter efforts, the Celtics may have lost the game much earlier. Thomas scored 14 of his 35 points in the final frame, and also handed out a few key assists down the stretch to set up an Amir Johnson dunk and a Jaylen Brown 3-ball.

“You don’t want to turn it over at the time, but Ulis made a heck of a shot,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said of the game-winner.

That said, the Celtics really lost this game in the first half quarter, when they hit just six field goals in the first quarter and seven in the second, and were dominated in the paint. The final points in the paint tally was 52-32 Suns, and most of that advantage was established in the first half. The Celtics scored just one basket in the paint in the first 12 minutes of action.

Key Player

While Thomas had a huge game against the Suns, Terry Rozier stepped in off the bench and contributed 14 points in just under 20 minutes off the bench. The C’s certainly needed the extra help in the backcourt, as Avery Bradley was an afternoon scratch with a sore hamstring.

Brown (14 points) got the start in Bradley’s place, but Rozier’s back-to-back 3s late in the third quarter helped bring the Celtics back into striking distance. The Celtics trailed 79-64 with 3:11 left in the third, but Rozier’s 3-pointers fueled a 13-2 run that closed the quarter and brought Boston back.

Early in the fourth, Rozier made an impressive steal along the baseline that would salvage a bad possession and set up a Thomas 3-pointer.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Isaiah Thomas was the only Celtic in double-figures at the end of the first half, but by the end of the night, six Celtics had 11 or more points.
  • The Celtics hit just 29 of their 40 free throws (73%).
  • Twelve of Thomas' 25 field goal attempts came from behind the arc, and he connected on five of them.
  • Thomas hit as many free throws as field goals (10).
  • Marcus Smart took a game-high 12 free throws.
  • Tyler Zeller only played 5:30, but he grabbed five rebounds in that time.
  • Eric Bledsoe stuff the stats sheet for the Suns, with 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists.
  • The Suns hit just four of their 20 3-point attempts.
  • Marquese Chriss racked up five of the Suns 10 blocked shots.
  • Former Celtic Leandro Barbosa went just 1-for-8 from the field for 2 points off the bench.

Quote of the Night

The second quarter was as bad as I’ve seen us play.

Brad Stevens on how the game was actually lost in Phoenix.

Key Player

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