Boston Celtics 115, Phoenix Suns 103 -- Revenge best served cold


BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are widely known around the NBA as the baddest team in the land, and the Phoenix Suns stared them right in the eye without flinching Wednesday night in the TD Garden.

They did so both on the scoreboard, where they brought a 29-point second-half lead all the way down to eight without a starter on the floor before falling 115-103, and they did so by physically fighting back against a Celtics squad that wanted revenge following the overblown aftereffects of the teams’ meeting in Phoenix a month ago.

The Celtics came out with an edge and built their lead by playing at the fevered emotional pitch that they are best at. The Suns’ starters had no answers as they were largely held to the perimeter while Boston torched them inside. The Celts got five layups or dunks in the first four minutes alone and doubled the Suns in the paint for the game (52-26).

That emotion spilled over in the final seconds as Kevin Garnett earned a technical with 16 seconds left for jawing at the Suns’ bench and then Rajon Rondo shot a three-pointer at the buzzer in a game long decided. But Jared Dudley wouldn’t stand for that, so he fouled Rondo good and hard by the Suns’ bench to let him know how he felt about running up the score.

“I just did what I was taught since playing this game,” Dudley tweeted.

Alvin Gentry feigned not caring by saying, “That’s no big deal, you play to win the game. You’re supposed to play for 48 minutes, he wanted to shoot and he shot it. I don’t see anything wrong with that. He’s supposed to play 48 minutes, there was two seconds or four seconds to go, you play 48 minutes. I don’t have a problem with that, I really don’t.”

I would love to hear what Gentry really thinks in a candid moment, but he probably did not want to stir up KG and the Celtics anymore after his comments about losing a little respect for Garnett after he hit Channing Frye in the groin fired up the Celtics for this one so much.

Doc Rivers could see that fire burning in his squad at shootaround, and Paul Pierce felt there was carryover from the beatdown in Phoenix.

“It got kind of heated down the stretch and some words were said in the paper from the Phoenix side,” said Pierce, alluding to Gentry’s comments. “Coming into the game we felt that this was, we were hyped for this game truthfully. We couldn’t wait to get them back in our building based on what happened last time and some of the words. It was very refreshing to go out there and get this win how we did it.”

Rivers also had no problem with Rondo’s late shot, instead calling out the Suns’ bench for doing a bit too much chirping.

Whatever it was KG channeled the 2004 version of himself by exploding for a season-high 28 points on 12-for-14 shooting while also pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking a pair of shots. Perhaps proving a point after their tiff last month, KG abused Frye in the post, although Gentry wasn’t so sure it was because of the revenge factor.

“I’m sure if it is Doc hopes he gets pissed off at every coach in the league,” Gentry said. “I don’t see anything, I think we’re making a big deal out of nothing. In the grand scheme of things it’s one game that we play, and he played great, you got to give him credit.”

The Suns’ starters, meanwhile, did not play great, as all five of them boasted negative plus/minus ratings, with Grant Hill the worst losing 25 points in 27 minutes. The bench saved this one from being a laugher with everybody off the pine gaining at least nine points, led by Hakim Warrick’s plus 15 in 23 minutes.

Phoenix scored the last nine points in the third in large part due to three Dudley buckets and continued to pour it on in the fourth by scoring the first nine in that period for an 18-0 run that made this a 10-point game with 8:37 remaining.

Gentry rightly chose to roll with his bench to the finish as the reserve unit finally got the Suns out into the open court after the team lacked any rhythm the first two and a half quarters.

“I think we played extremely well in the second half, especially the second unit,” Mickael Pietrus said.

Added Marcin Gortat, “We didn’t have anything to lose.”

Aaron Brooks was the catalyst of the attack by scoring 14 of his 17 points during the second half run while also finishing with seven assists on 6-for-7 shooting in his 21 minutes of action. Dudley added 15, Pietrus 11 and Gortat 13 and 13 for a bench that had twice as many players in double figures as the starters.

“We have a good second unit,” Brooks said. “Everybody’s been a starter on that second unit before, they know how to play. It makes us dangerous.”

Playing with such a deficit may have helped a second-unit that has put together back-to-back impressive showings after blowing many a lead earlier this season as they could play loose without the pressure of protecting an advantage.

But on this night that wasn’t enough against a Celtics squad that came out as motivated as they were lethargic in their 88-71 loss in the Valley, even if Dudley did deliver the final blow.

“We’ve got some work to do to be able to play with teams like this,” Gentry said. “I thought our second unit did a good job. We’ve got to get our starters competing and playing at the same level and playing better than we have.”

And 1

Channing Frye and Vince Carter ran into each other and viciously bumped heads with 4:53 left in the third. Neither player returned, as Frye suffered an eye contusion and Carter a mouth laceration. “One of those freak things that happens,” Gentry said. … The Celts won the battle of the boards 45-33. After Gortat’s 13 the next highest Sun was Dudley with five. Speaking of JMZ, Dudley threw down his fifth dunk of the season tonight. Still waiting for a posterization, though. …. Phoenix lost its first game since the All-Star break after winning its first four. … Nash failed to record double-digit assists after doing so in 10 straight and 14 of 15. He finished with seven. … The rafters of the TD Garden look like a Sudoku puzzle with so many retired numbers in boxes up there.

Tags: Alvin Gentry Jared Dudley Kevin Garnett

  • Phil

    This was a completely predictable defeat, with the Celtics’ (completely unjustified) self righteous desire for revenge coupled with this being the Suns third game in 4 nights after two OT wins – not surprised to see Nash and Hill below their normal level. The key is to forget it and beat the Bucks then this will have been a pretty nice road trip

  • Wierzbi

    Yeah, starters need to somehow rest a little, and the bench has to retain what they showed against the Celts, and the win against the Bucks will come. And this will be, as is said above, a pretty nice road trip.

  • Jason

    This was a predictable defeat because the Suns are mediocre at best and don’t belong on the court with Top 10 teams in the NBA. There isn’t a lot to be optimistic about with this team.

  • Steve

    @Jason

    Are you forgetting that the Suns have beat the Celtics and Lakers this year already? Last year’s two Finals competitors, and this team that “doesn’t belong on the court with Top 10 teams” took them.

    I don’t think the Suns are Finals-bound, by any means. I actually still doubt our playoff hopes, and think we’ll end up with the ninth spot at about 45 wins, but a 45-win team is no snub that “top 10″ teams can simply ignore preparing for.

    As mentioned before, this was the Suns’ third game in four days, the first two of which were emotional overtime victories. Put the Celtics’ obvious desire to avenge their earlier humiliation at the Suns’ hands into the equation, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster if you’re a Suns fan.

    Onto what I really want to say. I like the attitude the bench is getting. It’s more of the bench mob mentality that we saw last year. Duds and Gortat are enforcers, Brooks looks like he might be happy about his role on the bench (or at least happy enough to play for a bigger contract come summer time). I think this team has the potential to surprise someone in the first round if they can make it there, and also if they can abandon the idea that Robin Lopez and Vince Carter can play basketball.

  • Kevin B

    Great point Phil, Wierzbi your cool, Jason your a douche, I’m out.

  • AJ

    I second Kevin B.

  • http://rodhaberer.com Rod

    The Celtics are one of the top teams in the east, and the Suns are just hoping to make the playoffs. So what the heck were the Celtics so upset about last night? It was Frye who was punched in the nads the last game, not KG. I’m so sick of KG’s antics and trash talk. If he stuck that chin in my face I’d knock it off. Celtics are a bunch of classless jerks, I don’t care how many championships they’ve won.

  • Mel.

    Then get the hell off our boards, Jason. Nobody cares about the belched criticisms of some moonlighting clown who wants to pretend like they know what they’re talking about.

    Aside from what’s already been written, I’ll echo my comments in the prior post: if Brooks keeps this up, then he’s going to be the first acquisition of the season (Not counting Gortat, who has been an absolute godsend, but who was certainly overlooked in favor of the “chatter” on VC coming out of the J-Rich trade) who’s actually not only doing what he was signed to do, but who’s doing it RIGHT.

    If nothing else, he’s already beat out Turkoglu on the expectations front. Not that that’s hard to do at this point, but…

  • Brian

    @Jason – I agree with you and I’m a Suns fan. There’s absolutely nothing to get excited about with this team. I don’t know why you people get so bent out of shape about it. The Suns are 6-14 against the top 5 seeds in each conference. I mean of course they’ll win a few games against top teams, this is the NBA, and there are 82 regular season games to slog through.

    So are all you “non-moonlighters” optimistic about this team? Gunning for the 8th seed in a league with over half of the teams in the playoffs doesn’t strike me as exciting.

  • Danno

    Wow. The comments in here make Tommy Heinshon’s homerism look downright objective. LOL.

    You’re all talking about the Celtics being “classless” and “jerks”, yet ignoring Steve Nash’s 8 (that’s right – he said FUCK 8 times on national TV) F-bomb laden tirade at the ref, all because he got posterized on D (like he always does). Had any of the Celtics players spewed out that much vitriol at the refs, they would have received double techs, gotten ejected, and then fined $15k the next day by Stern.

    But that would happen because the Celtics are a model NBA franchise, from the Ownership on down to the ball boys. Whereas the Suns are now relegated to being also-rans. The Cleveland Cavaliers of the Western conference. That ship has sailed, Stevie Gollum. You should have retired with your dignity intact to go run for Mayor of East Eskimotaint, CA. before the season started.

    As for Dudley – there’s really only one way to describe his “bravery” in hard fouling a point guard he has 6 inches and 40 lbs on with .4 seconds left in a game that was clearly over – jealousy. He must be PISSED they didn’t trade him to a winner. Sixth man on a losing squad. That’s like being the husband of a woman who does Bukkake videos for a living.

  • PHXsunsFanInLA

    To danno….get out of here if ur not a suns fan and if u think the suns r the western confrence version of the cavs then u don’t know basketball…and ur talking about dudley?? Y would rondo even shoot the ball with .4 left knowing he is a terrible shooter and the game was already over…

  • Danno

    @PHXsunsFanInLA

    Two plays before the last play – Pierce dribbled out the possession to a shot clock violation, leaving the Suns with the ball in a 13 point game, with only :12 seconds left. The classy way to do things.

    What did Mikeal Pietrus do?

    Drove it down court and quickly jacked up a shot. Why? Padding his stats in hopes that he’ll get signed elsewhere next year maybe?

    So it’s ok for Pietrus to do it, just not Rondo. Right. Gotcha.

    And I love the fact that JUST LIKE THE PLAYERS ON THE SUNS, the Suns fans can dish it out, but can’t take it in return.

    This site is an INTERNET blog. It’s available for public consumption. It’s not a private members-only Suns fan club site.

    If you don’t want meanie-head Celtics fans like me and Jason trashing your going-nowhere rebuilding franchise, then don’t post up angry screeds about how brave Jared Dudley is for adding 2 more points to the Celtics routing of your team by, stupidly fouling Rondo on the last possession.

  • Steve

    @Brian – Are you gonna say the Heat suck because they have a losing record against winning teams?

    Most playoff teams have losing records against winning teams.

    And Danno, you have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never liked Nash for his on-court demeanor (I think he whines too much and just generally plays the victim, like nearly every superstar in this league), but the Suns’ players have NEVER been treated preferentially when it comes to punishment for in-game or post-game activities/tirades/etc.

    Was it classless for Nash to cuss out a ref? Yes. Even in the heat of the moment, I still think it’s classless, but it’s at least understandable. You’re getting killed largely because the refs decided not to blow their whistles and you play a soft game, so at that point, there was nothing Nash could do about it but whine or toughen up. He chose to whine. HOWEVER, what IS classless is taking a three with 0.4 seconds left when you have already won the game and you don’t need to shoot. What IS classless is taking a shot at a guy’s nuts when he’s up for a shot. What IS classless is sticking your foot under a jumpshooter. And there is NO excuse for any of those actions. Those weren’t “in the heat of the moment.” They weren’t knee-jerk reactions. They are pre-meditated, ill-willed actions that have no place in the game of basketball.

  • Steve

    And I’m glad you’re a fan of your team, and it’s all about defending your own guys, but don’t be a moron and say that Suns fans can dish it out, but can’t take it when you’re doing the same thing.

    Can a fool call someone else a fool?

    You can’t take the fact that Garnett is a cheap, dirty player who takes shots at guys’ family jewels and steps under shooters. You can’t take the fact that Rondo is a chump for trying to run up the score even further with a last-second shot in a sure-win situation. If you can’t admit your guys are chumps, you can’t call out Suns fans for not admitting the same.

  • Steve

    And by the way, the Suns have beat you three of the past four meetings, and this was their third game in four days after two overtime victories. Some accomplishment for your Celts.

    You have no shot this year. Wouldn’t be top three in the West.15-8 against the West this year. Yikes. Good luck in the Playoffs. You’re going to need it if you can get through your own weak conference.

  • Danno

    Steve – I understand your frustration.

    It’s difficult to be a fan of a team with guys like Frye who embarrasingly flops after NOT actually getting hit in in nuts, nor having KG’s foot anywhere near where he landed – as EVERY replay showed. But you have to keep a brave face, and pretend it really did happen, to justify all the resentment you have.

    I suggest you might want to watch the replay of the KG Nutshot/Footgate play one more time, maybe after the season is over and you’re over your misery of being the 9th seed in what is now the awful conference in NBA Basketball. Perhaps a trip to the Optometrist ahead of this viewing would be in order though.

    Nevertheless, still crying about what happened to poor Channing Toast two friggin’ months ago must be comforting. So if that’s what helps you cry yourself to sleep, have at it.

    We’ll be sure to send you a sympathy card for your hurty balls from the Finals.

  • sun also rises

    I’m not used to seeing C’s fans on this board, and not ones that sound exactly like Laker fans. You could seriously change out the player names and this guy would be Lake Show For Life in green.

    Fans that use “we” and talk about issues that happened on the court like it was around the dinner table get me in stitches. What happens if the C’s don’t make the Finals, Danno? Do we get an apology card, or does the whole tough talk thing only apply if you win? lolol.

  • Kenton S. Lime

    Jeez…

    Hostility.

  • Jim

    Wow. A New England/Boston fan calls out others for being homers… I’ve finally seen it all. I just picture Danno speaking out loud and dropping his “r’s” as he gets progressively louder and more irrational. I even think it’s funny that a fan of a team he claims is going to the Finals feels the need to troll the blog of a 31-28 team.

    “When KG drahps 30 F-bahms, he’s showing MAJAHHHH HAAAHT like a TRUE CELTIC LEGEND!”

    Whether the first “foot under Frye” was intentional, the second action/intent was indisputable. There was a displacement of the fabric on Frye’s shorts, but we can’t determine if it actually made body contact. Stop acting like there’s some conspiracy here by the Suns to discredit your hypervigilant PF who sometimes crosses the line.

    Just because the East is top-heavy doesn’t mean the West is an awful conference. 10 games over .500 will probably be needed for a playoff spot in the West, while I’m pretty sure 35 wins will get in for 8th in the East.

    If Rondo peeks in another team’s huddle, Danno calls it “gamesmanship”; if Joakim Noah pulled such a stunt, he be calling for his scalp.

    What’s funnier? Suns fans perpetuating a “myth” against KG or a “Finals contender” needing extra motivation to beat such a basement team from the “lowly” Western Conference?

    If Kobe took a three with .4 seconds left and a comfortable lead at TD, he wouldn’t leave Boston alive.

  • Steve

    Was that trash talk? Do you feel like you have some sort of entitlement to all of the championships the Celtics won without you on the roster? Get a life. I don’t love my team because they’re good or bad. I just love my team.

    If you want to believe the nutshot didn’t happen, that’s cool.

    But if you want to believe the East is better than the West, that I’ll fight you on. The West has the two-time defending champion. The West has the best team. The West has the better head-to-head record this season (208-152). The West has 10 teams with winning records, the East has 7. Do you want to go on? I could pull up any number you want and show you that the West is better.

    The East has a highly concentrated group of talent, I’ll admit that. They have the better players at the very top, but not the better teams. Either way though, it’s not like the West is full of snubs. I’d take Kobe and Durant over LeBron and Wade any day of the week.

    And by the way, the Celtics aren’t the best team in the East. See: Bulls. Your Celtics aren’t quite washed up yet, but wait until next year. You won’t be going around trash-talking on other fansites, taking ownership of accomplishments you had no part in.

    It’s clear you don’t know basketball, you just know bandwagoning, so I’m done with you, unless you want to try to bring up numbers to show me how the East is supposedly better than the West despite the fact they have a terrible record against the West.

  • Jim

    According to Hoopdata.com, here are the top 4 teams in defensive efficiency…

    Defensive Efficiency (thru Sunday’s games)
    1…Chicago 97.4
    2…Boston 97.5
    3…Orlando 99.0
    4…Miami 99.6

    And then here’s the strength of schedule ranking for the bottom 5 (#30 means easiest):

    30…Miami
    29…Orlando
    28…Boston
    27…Atlanta
    26…Chicago

    So yeah, Danno, obviously the East is just a murderer’s row… moron.

  • http://espn.com Rob

    Wow, Steve and Jim dropped some serious knowledge on Danno. Danno is like the Fox News of basketball fanboy posting.

    Suns would be beasting it if they played in the East.

  • sun also rises

    Jim, you give the guy serious credit by assuming that he’s even from the east coast. Knowing how these things usually go, I’d put five on him being from Minnesota or Sacramento or something.

    Real homer fans tend to just get loud and not debate this crap like they were on a World of War Craft board. It’s the home town phonies who take hours nipping on every little point and acting like they were born wearing a Bill Russell jersey.

  • Auggie5000

    I just want to know why he was looking at Channing’s nuts so closely?

  • Tom W

    Wow. On behalf of Celtics fans who aren’t dumb as a post, allow me to apologize for the description of the Suns as the “Cavaliers of the Western Conference”. Your description of Danno sounding like a Laker fan was unfortunately accurate.

    Respect to the Suns for fighting back from that far down against a Finals contender. I really enjoy watching Steve Nash play, I’d love it if he could somehow get a ring in Phoenix before his career is over. He deserves it.

  • sun also rises

    Tom, there’s no need for diplomacy/apology. There’s a reason why Suns fans cheer the C’s when they play here, because they’re a tough team who give the Lakers ulcers (and what’s not to respect about that). Even with ‘Nutgate’ and all that back and forth the fact stands that the teams have a great match up and put on a real show for us.

    Homer fans are homer fans no matter what colors they say they bleed, and they never rep the real believers.