Keys to the Game: Celtics 102, Suns 94

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Key Moment

The Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns took turns dominating large stretches of play throughout the first three quarters of Monday night's matchup at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Celtics took control out of the gate, getting off to a 31-15 lead after one frame. The Suns retaliated, however, with a 30-17 advantage during the second quarter to bring them within three points of Boston heading into halftime.

Phoenix took a three-point lead after the break, but Boston snapped back with another massive run. And this time, the C’s were able to set the Suns for good.

The C’s were trailing 53-50 at the 9:01 mark of the third quarter, but Al Horford and Jayson Tatum quickly reversed the deficit in Boston's favor. Horford hit a game-tying 3-pointer, and then Tatum knocked down an and-1 layup, which put the C's ahead by three points and helped kick-start a 20-6 Boston run.

Six different Celtics made shots during the run that spanned over 7:06 of play. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris led the way with five points apiece during the stretch, while Phoenix mustered only six total points during the same span

Morris’ 20-foot, pull-up jumper at the 1:55 mark of the third quarter capped off the run, putting Boston on top, 70-59. Phoenix would never come within two possessions of the C’s after that, as Boston came away with a 102-94 win.

Key Player

All eyes were on the rookies Monday night, as Jayson Tatum of the Celtics and Josh Jackson of the Suns each scored 23 points to lead their respective teams in scoring. The real difference-maker, however, turned out to be a seasoned veteran on Boston's side of the court.

Al Horford put together by far the most well-rounded game of any individual that stepped foot inside Talking Stick Resort Arena, as he tallied 19 points, along with team highs of nine rebounds and seven assists. He also notched a steal and a blocked shot, all while only turning the ball over only once during 32 minutes of play.

Horford was as efficient as could be on the the offensive end, knocking down 7-of-12 shots from the field, hitting 3-of-4 attempts from 3-point range, and swishing both of his free-throw attempts.

The 31-year-old big man may not have produced the same types of flashy buckets that the two aforementioned youngsters showcased, but Horford made game-changing plays on both ends of the court that proved to be essential for Boston on its path to victory.

Box Score Nuggets

  • The Celtics shot 100 percent from the free-throw line on 14 attempts.
  • Never during the Brad Stevens era had Boston achieved free-throw perfection while attempting that many shots.
  • The Suns attempted five more free-throws than the C's, but made four fewer (10-of-19).
  • Rookies Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson led their respective teams in scoring with 23 points apiece.
  • Marcus Morris accounted for 20 of Boston's 33 bench points.
  • Only five Celtics committed a turnover, while five others didn't commit any at all.
  • Al Horford led the Celtics in rebounds (nine), as well as assists (seven).
  • Tyler Ulis logged 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds off the bench for Phoenix.
  • Aron Baynes recorded a game best plus-16 rating during just 18 minutes of play.
  • The Suns had a slight rebounding advantage by a tally of 47-44.
  • Troy Daniels knocked down a game-best six 3-pointers. No other Suns player made more than two.
  • Abdel Nader was responsible for two of Boston's three blocked shots.

Quote of the Night

In my eyes, that’s the rookie of the year."

Al Horford on Jayson Tatum.