Notebook: Celtics 113, Suns 88



Posted Feb 23, 2013 12:23 AM

Mike Tulumello, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Phoenix Suns, with their disappointing season winding down, are experimenting with lineups and seldom-used players.

The Boston Celtics, their season taking a surprising turn after the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, are bearing down on a playoff spot.

So maybe Friday night's visit by the Celtics (29-26) to Arizona was predictable. They played with purpose in rolling to an easy 113-88 win over the disjointed Suns. The Celtics, 9-3 since the Rondo injury, burst out of the gate with a 16-3 lead and really never were challenged in the wire-to-wire win. The Suns got only as close as 53-48 early in the third quarter. The Celtics are two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 8 and final playoff spot.

"It was a feel-good win," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. He praised new players Jordan Crawford (10 points) and Terrence Williams (nine points), saying, "They played great."

Jeff Green led the Celtics with a season-high 31 points. "Jeff was phenomenal," Rivers said.

Goran Dragic led the Suns (18-38) with 19 points and 10 assists. The disappointed Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said of the lopsided loss, "A situation like tonight burns at my very being, That is totally unacceptable."

Green started in place of Kevin Garnett, who sat out to rest -- his first missed game this season. Garnett has appeared tired since the Celtics' 118-114 triple-overtime win over the Nuggets on Feb. 10, Rivers said. "He didn't put up a fight at all," Rivers said. "That shows you we probably were a game or two too late."

With Green starting, the Celtics used a small lineup that the firepower-challenged Suns couldn't match.

"We like to take advantage of mismatches," Green said. "With the small lineup and their starters, we were able to take advantage."

With a small lineup, there was no reason not to space the floor, so Rivers said he told his players, "'Stay away from each other.' Even in transition, you could see five guys running away from each other."

QUOTABLE: "You can't think that way. Then it becomes individual basketball."
-- Jeff Green

THE STAT: The Celtics shot 56 percent, including 46 percent on 3-pointers.

TURNING POINT: When the teams took the floor.

QUOTABLE II: "I enjoyed the night off."
-- Kevin Garnett

HOT: Green hit 11-for-14.

NOT: The Suns shot 4-for-19 on 3-pointers.

IN THE ARENA: The game had the feel of a neutral-court game early, then -- as the rout was on -- a Celtics' home game. All the Celtics' fans pushed the announced attendance to a sellout (18,422).

This was the Suns' first announced sellout since April 1, 2011 vs. the Clippers.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Wesley Johnson is being given a shot to play over Shannon Brown, the Suns' sixth man much of the past two seasons. Johnson had averaged 10.5 points the previous two games. But against the Celtics, he shot 1-for-4 for three points.

ROOKIE WATCH: Kendall Marshall would seem to have the Suns' backup point guard role alone now that Sebastian Telfair has been traded to Toronto. But coach Hunter said he has told the first round draft pick that he won't hesitate to play Diante Garrett if Marshall fails to do the job. Marshall generally has been viewed as a disappointment so far,

The Suns had both Marshall and Garrett on the floor in a three-guard lineup late in the game.

Marshall shot 1-for-7 for two points. Garrett was 0-for-3 for one point.

NOTABLE: Midway through the fourth quarter, Marcus Morris -- acquired from the Rockets for a second-rounder. joined his twin brother Markieff on the floor. This occurred while the Celtics were running up their lead to 30 points. Marcus, though, managed to hit a 3-pointer. The Suns now can claim the only two sets of twin teammates in the NBA. The first: Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, who played their final NBA season together for the Suns in 1976-77. They turned 70 years old Friday.

The Morris twins, though, don't have identical games. Hunter said he views Marcus as a "three" while Markieff will continue to be used as a big forward.

UP NEXT: For the Celtics, Sunday @ Portland, Monday @ Utah and Friday vs. Golden State. For the Suns, Sunday vs. San Antonio, Tuesday vs. Minnesota and Wednesday @ San Antonio.