"Compete on the Boards" was written on the chalk board in the Suns locker room before the game. Not only did the Suns compete on the boards, they actually won against the undefeated Boston Celtics in Boston Friday night, 110-103.
Jason Richardson played a monster game, leading the way in scoring for the Suns with 34. Richardson had to have been motivated by his 0 for in Orlando. Tonight he made up for the zeroes all over the floor in TD Garden, including 6-7 from three point range.
Richardson played a complete game tonight. He mad Ray Allen a non-factor, holding the Celtics guard to 16 points. But J-Rich wasn't satisfied just bombing away from outside, he drove to the hoop, posted up Allen, and even battled for rebounds, leading the team with 10. He even made free throws which hasn't been a given the past two games for the Suns.
Similar to two nights ago against Orlando, not much was expected from this Suns squad. A loss was acceptable,a blowout was suspected, especially against the 6-0 Celtics, especially in Boston. But the Phoenix Suns would have none of that. They started off strong, and even though they were over matched in the size department, they fought against constant pressure by a very talented and explosive Celtics team. Every time the Celtics made a run at the Suns lead, the Suns answered.
In the third quarter the Suns defense began to fall apart. The Celtics began the third shooting 7-8, all of the makes on layups. But the Suns fought back, with Steve Nash awakening offensively and J-Rich staying hot, holding on to an 85-83 lead.
As the Celtics closed in on the Suns in the 4th, Steve Nash slammed a dagger in the Celtics hearts icing the game with a three pointer with 54 seconds left.
- Amare Stoudemire is officially back. Is it not obvious? His second quarter posterization of KG was nothing short of beautiful.
- The Suns shot 13-24 from behind the three point arc (54%) and finally looked respectable from the free throw line (76%)
- Goran Dragic continued to play with poise and confidence. The Slovenian made a nice leaner over Eddie House in the second quarter, rebounded one of his own misses in traffic and wasn't afraid to battle the big boys underneath the basket. More than once Dragic went to the floor for a loose ball. Even after one of his passes was intercepted, he hustled down the court and stole the ball back on the other end.
- The Suns lead swelled to 11 in the second period after Stoudemire hit a 15 footer. The squad of Hill, Clark, Dudley, Amundson, and Dragic more than held their own against the Celtics bench.
- The Suns defense was good tonight. They were over matched in the size department, but giving up 26 to Garnett was good enough. While the Celtics dominated the points in the paint, the Suns were able to keep Paul Pierce in check. Shooting over 50% from three point land also helps to balance things out.
- The first half ended with the Suns leading 57-51 and a nice little scrap between Channing Frye and Kendrick Perkins. See, Frye isn't soft! "Hit us and we're going to hit you back," said a grinning Richardson about the tussle after the game.
- Dudley and Amundson continue to impress. It is clear that Amundson was successful in working on his offensive game in the off-season. It isn't so much that he's putting up huge numbers as much as his foot work and confidence has improved. He still has a long way to go from the free throw line. Dudley looks more and more impressive from behind the arc with every game. Both understand what they need to do not only to stay in the rotation but in the NBA, and they bring it every night.
- Leandro Barbosa was a game time scratch due to his wrist injury. He is certainly missed, but the team is still playing at a high level without him.
- The Suns are 5-1 for the first time in nearly a decade.
- Lastly, let us thank Rasheed Wallace for taking six three pointers, because he missed them all. Keeping bombing, 'Sheed, we love it!
Next up, Washington on Sunday, 1 PM Eastern
How great was this!