The Phoenix Suns suffered another defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics with a final score of 87-79.
After the Phoenix Suns’ second-half performance against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, was anyone surprised by the outcome of Wednesday night’s game in Boston?
Considering the Phoenix Suns’ 2-15 away record prior to their matchup against the Celtics, most of you would probably agree that “The Song Remains the Same.” This Led Zeppelin reference may be the best way to describe Suns’ road record up to this point.
As this four-game road trip began with a Brandon Jennings rally over the Suns, one of the more intriguing storylines going into this game was how the team would respond against one of the top point guards the NBA has to offer in Rajon Rondo.
Although Rondo, and by extension Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, did not dominate the floor, the Suns were unable to slow down the Celtics’ overall roster. This game ultimately came down to a battle between benches, one which Boston was victorious according to Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
“I think it would be a little bit easier to swallow if it would have been Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett,” Gentry said. ”At the end of the day it was their bench that really hurt us the most.”
The Celtics’ Jared Sullinger led the team with 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Rondo said the game was won because of Sullinger as well as Jason Terry and Jeff Green.
“They won the game for us basically,” Rondo said. ”The bench played well. The starters didn’t play good at all tonight.”
In spite of the loss, the Suns’ Jared Dudley contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds while Marcin Gortat followed up his performance against the Bucks with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Nonetheless, the Phoenix Suns shot 39 percent from the field. The Celtics led the game in assists, steals and fast-break points. Conversely, the Suns had the superior margin in both fouls and turnovers by the end of the fourth quarter. Not exactly a winning formula, especially on the road.
Yet despite the dismal finish against the Bucks, Phoenix held their own in the first quarter with a 24-23 lead over Boston. This was no surprise when you consider the Suns lead six fast-break points compared to the Celtics four. Goran Dragic added a level of excitement with two electrifying assists to both Jared Dudley and Markieff Morris.
Unfortunately for the Suns, Avery Bradley answered with an assist of his own. Bradley’s alley-oop pass to Green appeared to be the momentum shifter in the second quarter. From that point on, everything seemed fall apart for Phoenix in the first half. The Suns did not do themselves any favors by allowing the opposition to shoot 57 percent from the field and outscore them 30-17 all in the second quarter.
The Celtics’ 53-41 halftime lead can more than likely be attributed to the Suns’ 10 turnovers that consequently supplemented Boston’s seven steals. Other disconcerting stats for Suns fans included shooting 40 percent from the free-throw line. By comparison, Boston shot over 87 percent from the foul line.
However, Phoenix appeared to have short-term memory after countering with a fiery 17-0 run to start the third quarter. Perhaps this had something to do with Phoenix only turning the ball over three times during the entire third quarter. Regardless, the Celtics regained a 67-64 lead due to the Suns’ free throw struggles. Shannon Brown missed the team’s only foul shot, which was a result of a Doc Rivers technical foul.
The Phoenix Suns have two games left in their four-game road trip against the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls. Nevertheless, until Phoenix can prove otherwise, fans may have to evaluate this team solely based on how they perform when the game is on the line.