Suns Upstage Pierce’s 40-point Performance
Phoenix 102, Boston 94
BOSTON, Feb. 2 (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Suns ended their season-high six-game East Coast swing on a good note.
Shawn Marion collected 21 points and 12 rebounds and Raja Bell added 18 points as the Suns posted a 102-94 triumph over the slumping Boston Celtics, who got 40 points from Paul Pierce.
After Al Jefferson's three-point play cut Boston's deficit to 31-25 with just under nine minutes left in the half, Leandro Barbosa ignited the burst with a driving layup at the other end and capped it with an assist on Bell's 3-pointer that made it 47-27 with 4:38 remaining.
"I went through a period were I missed some tonight and I was anxious to try to get another one up there because the ball felt good coming out of my hands," said Bell, who made 6-of-15 shots overall.
Bell and Marion combined for 20 points in the first two quarters, helping the Suns build just enough of a cushion to withstand a furious rally in the second half, as Boston closed the gap behind Pierce, who scored 33 after intermission.
Trailing, 57-38, the Celtics opened the second half with a 13-0 run to draw within 59-51 with 8:35 to go in the third period and faced a 75-69 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
"We came in at the half and said we were going to fight regardless," said Pierce, who made 14-of-27 shots from the floor. "We got back in the game but there are no moral victories. We gave ourselves chances, but you can't get down by that many points if you expect to win."
Boston continued its rally in the fourth and drew within 80-78 on Orien Greene's layup with 9:05 left before the Suns answered with a 9-3 spurt over the next 3 1/2 minutes.
"We knew they were going to make a run," said Marion, who shot 9-of-17 overall. "They were at home and they couldn't go out like that. We kept our heads in it, sustained their run and buckled down and got some big baskets when we needed to and some big stops when we needed to."
Pierce's reverse layup with 2:40 remaining made it 98-94, but the Celtics got no closer as Marion made two free throws and Bell connected on a key jumper in the the final seconds to seal the victory.
"Raja has been doing it, he's been playing terrific," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We mentioned it every game on this road trip. He's shooting about 55 or 60 percent from 3-point range and averaging at least 20 points in the last 10 games. "I don't know what we would do without him. Plus he's a big time defensive stopper, we know that."
Steve Nash had 13 points and eight assists and Kurt Thomas contributed 12 points for the Suns, who shot 45 percent (39-of-85) and wrapped up a 4-2 road trip.
"I thought it was a great win, the end of 10 days away, it is nice to come out and play well at the start of a game," said Nash, who grabbed four rebounds. "But you also realize that there are two halves to a game. We totally lost our rhythm. We lost our enthusiasm in the third and for us to really suck it up was very important for us."
Jefferson had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench and Kendrick Perkins added 12 for Boston, which shot 46 percent (35-of-76) and committed 19 turnovers en route to its third straight loss.
"Obviously it was a great comeback," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "But when you dig yourself a hole like we did in the first half it's tough to come back when you play a team that shoots the ball the way they shoot the ball."