Game Preview: Suns at Celtics

The Phoenix Suns have played well in a fast-paced offense under coach Jeff Hornacek, though they came to a grinding halt in a disappointing start to their road swing.

The Suns look to get back to what they do best Monday night when they continue a six-game trip against a Boston Celtics team that has scuffled defensively.

Phoenix (5-5) led the NBA with 18.7 fast-break points per game in Hornacek's first season in 2013-14 and entered Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers ranked second with an average of 17.3.

The Suns had 15 fast-break points in a 54-point first half, but scored two the rest of the way in a 120-107 loss to begin their longest trip of the season. They were outscored 42-20 in the decisive third quarter.

"We played decent for a half," Hornacek said after his club shot a season-low 38.4 percent. "But in the third quarter, we gave them too many easy plays. They made three or four 3s to start the half that were uncontested, and they kept going from there."

Hornacek's club may be able to rediscover its up-tempo attack Monday as it looks to avoid a third straight defeat. The Celtics (3-5) rank near the bottom of the NBA in points allowed (108.4), field-goal percentage against (47.9) and 3-point percentage (39.9).

Boston dropped its second in a row Friday, surrendering 38 fourth-quarter points while blowing a 19-point lead in a 122-121 home loss to Cleveland.

Although the Celtics allow a respectable 12.1 fast-break points per game, they gave up a season-high 24 to the Cavaliers.

"You've got to play all 48 (minutes)," coach Brad Stevens told the NBA's official website.

Guards Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green combine to average 46.3 points for Phoenix, which ranks among league leaders with 104.0 points per game.

After going scoreless in eight minutes in a loss to Charlotte on Friday, Green bounced back with 26 points before the former Celtic was ejected with 1:57 remaining after picking up his second technical foul.

Dragic totaled 37 points as Phoenix took both meetings with Boston last season. Thomas scored a combined 45 to go along with 18 assists in his last two against the Celtics while with Sacramento.

Phoenix, which gave up season highs in points, field-goal percentage (52.9) and 3-pointers (14 of 29) on Saturday, has allowed opponents to make 45.6 percent from beyond the arc in the last four games. The Suns might be able to improve in that area against a Boston team that ranks near the bottom of the league with a 30.0 percentage on 3-pointers.

The Celtics, though, are coming off one of their best offensive performances as they look to salvage a win on their three-game homestand. They scored 42 in the third quarter Friday, matched a season-high total for the game and shot 54.5 percent.

Kelly Olynyk finished with a season-high 21 points and Jared Sullinger added 19 along with 10 rebounds. Olynyk has averaged 17.7 points and 62.5 percent shooting in his last three.

Sullinger has averaged 17.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in his past four home games.


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