Suns
Celtics
87 - 104 Final
  for this game

Celtics continue strong play, embarrass Suns

Jan 20, 2009 - 5:13 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics spent their night humiliating the Phoenix Suns, who spent theirs wondering why they showed up.

Rajon Rondo led a balanced attack with 23 points while Ray Allen added 20 as the Celtics embarrassed the Suns, 104-87, at TD Banknorth Garden on Monday.

Kevin Garnett added 16 points for the Celtics, who won their fifth straight and improved to 34-9 overall and 21-2 on their home court.

"I think we started on the defensive end, and we just kept our intensity the entire night," Rondo said.

Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who did not share the Super Bowl karma of their neighbors in the desert - the Arizona Cardinals - on this night.

And like the Cardinals, who were blown out, 47-7, in their December trip to New England, the Suns showed no resistance.

"It was a good old fashion (butt) whooping and there is nothing more to say, period," O'Neal said. "That's it. Good old fashion (butt) whooping. We knew they were going to come with this intensity.

"With a team like this, you've got to match it and we didn't match it. We didn't match it. No excuses for that. I don't write it off. You always have to come to compete. We've got a long way to go and there is no excuse for this."

The Celtics wasted no time taking complete control of the game in the opening 90 seconds, scoring the first three baskets of the game to take a 6-0 lead.

Steve Nash hit a running bank shot with 8:34 remaining in the first to draw the Suns within four at 11-7. That would be as close as the visitors would get the rest of the night.

"This is the worst of the year, no doubt," Suns coach Terry Porter said. "The way they came out and just gave us a good old spanking. They just were into us early, and the physicality of those guys, they were just picking us up, and really just knocking us wherever they wanted us to go, and we didn't come close to making them feel our presence on the floor."

The Celtics scored the next 10 points and the rout was on. Boston made 14 of its 24 shots in the first quarter to lead, 30-15, after one.

"It was a lot of fast break opportunities for me," Rondo said. "They missed shots, that was key for us, all night long, we got stops on defense and it allowed me to push stuff on the break and get easy looks at the basket."

Boston continued to pound Phoenix in the second quarter, outscoring it, 34-19, and leading by as many as 32.

"I just thought that the whole team defense was great," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought the deflections - going into the game we thought that would be the key to the game - because clearly we knew where they wanted to go.

"I thought that was the difference, honestly, was in the first half and in the third quarter. More in the first half, we got stops. We felt if we could get multiple stops, we could absolutely run. We feel we can run every night. Tonight it was great."

As well as the Celtics played, the Suns were just as horrendous, committing as many turnovers in the first half, 15, as field goals made.

"We got a good old spanking tonight," Porter said. "They really came out and turned the intensity on us early and we didn't respond. We just didn't. Turnovers have been a nemesis of ours all year long, and we turned it over, and they got out, got a lot of easy baskets.

Things didn't get any better in the third as Boston maintained its stranglehold on the game, building its lead to 35 at 87-52 on Ray Allen's 3-point jumper. The Celtics took an 89-58 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Boston coach Doc Rivers rested all of his starters except center Brian Scalabrine for the final quarter.

Nash had 12 points and eight assists for the Suns, who fell to 23-16 overall and 1-1 on their season-long, six-game road trip.

"It's pretty simple," Nash said. "They played harder than we did. They played better than we did. They put a clinic on for us tonight."