Keys to the Game: Celtics 116, Suns 111
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
The Celtics needed a putaway shot Saturday afternoon against the Phoenix Suns. Bet you can’t guess who provided one.
OK, maybe you can. His name is Kyrie Irving.
Irving, who had not made an imprint on this game while scoring only 14 points through the first 46 minutes of the game, came up green on his biggest shot of the night with 1:53 left in the game.
With Boston leading by only two points following Tyson Chandler’s alley-oop dunk at the 2:09 mark, the C’s needed a bucket, and they needed one badly. Irving took matters into his own hand after he came off of a screen by Al Horford right next to the Red Auerbach signature on the parquet floor, about 35 feet from the basket.
Horford set his screen on the left side of Irving’s defender, Tyler Elis, and Irving used two dribbles to his right to step into a wide-open 3-pointer from the right wing.
Splash. Nothing but net.
The bucket gave Boston a two-possession lead and snatched most of the hope of a comeback directly out of Phoenix’s hands.
Irving also dropped in another key bucket shortly thereafter, a driving finger roll with 28.8 seconds left, that pushed Boston ahead by six.
The only player that looked like a superstar during the first three-plus quarters of this game was Devin Booker, who finished with a game-high 38 points. But when push came to shove, and with the game on the line, it was Irving who took over.
He’s the reason why Boston held on for its 20th win of the season.
Al Horford, nothing but solid, yet again.
Horford notched yet another double-double Saturday afternoon, his team-leading seventh of the season, by racking up 14 points and a game-high 11 assists against Phoenix.
For comparison’s purpose in the assist column, no Suns player tallied more than five assists in the contest. Horford also finished the afternoon with a sparkling assist-to-turnover ratio of 11-to-1.
Boston’s big man has been incredibly efficient this season. He entered the game having shot 54.5 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from 3-point range. He upped both of those percentages Saturday afternoon by hitting six of his 10 shots (60 percent) and two of his four 3s (50 percent).
Horford also grabbed five rebounds and blocked a shot during his 32-plus minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Six Celtics scored between 13 and 19 points, led by Kyrie Irving's 19.
- Al Horford's 11 assists were more than double the highest total by any Suns player (five).
- Horford logged a double-double of 14 points and 11 assists.
- Aron Baynes was a plus-16 in nearly 18 minutes of action.
- Devin Booker led the game with 38 points.
- Booker fouled out of the game during the final minute of play.
- Phoenix outscored Boston 70-38 in the paint.
- Boston's 14 made 3s were double the amount Phoenix connected on (seven).
- The Suns outrebounded the C's 45-31.
- Boston committed only nine turnovers in the game.
- Booker's 29 field goal attempts were more than double the total of Boston's highest individual number (14 - Irving and Marcus Morris).
- Morris scored 17 points off of Boston's bench for the second straight game. He also led the team in rebounds with eight.
- Morris and Marcus Smart combined for 30 points off the bench, falling just two points shy of Phoenix's team total off the bench.
- Smart also dished out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Quote of the Night
(NBCSB's) Abby (Chin) just asked me if the offense is catching up to the defense. I said, 'Yes, for two reasons.' The offense is getting a little bit better, and the defense is not playing as well.
Brad Stevens, with a slight grin, on Boston's defensive play of late, before.