Marionís Career High Keeps Suns Scorching
Phoenix 103, Boston 94
PHOENIX, Feb. 22 (Ticker) -- Participating in All-Star Weekend did little to slow Shawn Marion and the break did nothing to stop the surging Phoenix Suns.
Marion scored a career-high 44 points and collected 15 rebounds and four steals as the Suns won for the 10th time in 12 games with a 103-94 triumph over the Boston Celtics.
"I was the beneficiary of the team making the extra passes and I was knocking them down," Marion said. "I would never go out of character to try and get a career high when it is a close game like that. That is what happens when you play team ball. I was getting open shots and just taking what was given to me."
Coming off his third All-Star appearance, Marion got off to a flying start with 18 points in the opening quarter. He only had five points in the second period, but the Suns still held a 53-44 advantage at the break.
"It was important for us to get off to a good start early coming off the break," Marion said. "We just wanted to come out early and play with the same intensity we had before the All-Star break."
Marion again found his touch in the third quarter, scoring 11 points. Boris Diaw, who scored 20 points, gave Phoenix its biggest lead, 77-58, with a pair of free throws with 1:45 remaining in the period.
"It's simple. Sometimes you hit shots and sometimes you don't," Diaw said. "That's why this team is good. Every night it is always someone who is going to pick up the slack and score."
The Celtics won the opener of their four-game road trip at Utah on Tuesday. It proved to be a costly victory as forward Wally Szczerbiak bruised his left knee in the first quarter and was forced to sit out Wednesday's affair.
Also without center Kendrick Perkins, who has been sidelined of late because of a dislocated left shoulder, Boston was hard-pressed to post its first back-to-back road wins of the season.
However, the Celtics rallied behind Delonte West and teenage rookie Gerald Green, who led a 15-4 charge over the next 5 1/2 minutes.
"We are injury-plagued right now," West said. "We are missing a lot of our offense, so shots have to be made up and I am just looking a little more aggressively for my shot."
West, who scored a career-high 30 points, hit a long buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter and Green scored eight of his 13 points during the burst. Green capped the run with a dunk that made it 81-73 with 10:10 to go.
Boston eventually shrunk its deficit to 95-91 when All-Star Paul Pierce connected on a highlight-reel reverse layup with 2:31 remaining. Pierce, who primarily was guarded by Marion, finished with 20 points, ending his streak of six consecutive 30-point games.
"Shawn Marion's game was unbelievable," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "His defense on Paul Pierce and his rebounding was incredible. That was big time right there. You don't see many performances like that. This was one game when you knew Shawn was having one of those games. He was making buckets for us."
"I was really happy with the effort. With all the injuries, I thought our guys played great tonight," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Our guys don't quit. We took most of the veterans out and the young guys got us back in the game."
However, All-Star Steve Nash and Diaw responded with a pair each from the line while the Celtics were held scoreless until West hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds.
Nash, who was just 2-of-11 from the floor Wednesday, was hobbled after he twinged his left hamstring in practice Tuesday and hyperextended his right knee in the shootaround before Wednesday's contest.