Of course, in a season like this one, the guy the Phoenix Suns traded away last week is the one to put another dagger into their season.
Isaiah Thomas was quiet for most of the second half as the Suns came back from a 17-point halftime deficit, but in the final two minutes he made a 4-point play on a Brandon Knight foul and then a layup to put the Celtics ahead by 7 with 40 seconds left. And this was after the Suns had pulled within one point on a pair of Bledsoe threes.
There is no other way this could have ended. The Celtics won 115-110 after playing out the foul/score string.
Thomas finished with 21 points and 7 assists.
It's going to be a difficult transition period, folks. At the trade deadline, the Suns were juggled enough to have half their lineup at any one time either under 25 or new to the team, or both. Expecting young players like Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris to carry the troops to victory might just be too much to ask yet.
At several junctures, the Suns played Archie Goodwin (20), Alex Len (21) and Brandon Knight (23) along with a Morris (25) and maybe P.J. Tucker or the other Morris.
It wasn't pretty for most of the night, but there is big reason to hope.
Alex Len had another double double, with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Brandon Knight hit some big shots, finishing with 20 points and 4 assists.
Eric Bledsoe struggled with his shot and handle all night, but still had 19 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds.
P.J. Tucker tried to carry the Suns but just couldn't do it. Still, he had a double double with 13 and 12.
You'd think the Suns would open up with some fire. New guys. Big crowd. Lots of energy on the arena for Star Wars night.
But they didn't.
It was the Suns sleep walking through the first quarter, with 4 turnovers by the lead guards Knight and Bledsoe led to a 26-21 Celtics lead after one. The Celtics began the night making 8 of their first 11 shots with the Suns having mixup after mixup on defense with the new lineup including Knight.
Alex Len finished with 6 points (3 for 4 shooting) and 3 rebounds to lead the Suns.
But the second quarter was even worse. Hornacek tried different combinations, many of them new with Earl Barron, Brandon Knight and Marcus Thornton rotating in with Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren.
And it was an awful as that might sound.
The Celtics reeled off 6 more threes in the first six minutes of the quarter, after making 4 in the first to get to 10 of 14 overall before cooling off a bit. The Celtics lead got to 18 points quickly. Very quickly.
The Suns gave up points on nearly every turnover, to the tune of 17 of the Celtics 64 points on turnovers alone by the 2:36 mark of the second quarter.
The Suns had not energy, except for Eric Bledsoe (8 points, 5 assists) but no one else stepped up. The team was out of sorts, not sure who was doing what.
Meanwhile, the Celtics at the end of a long road trip and after an overtime loss last night have a 17-point halftime lead while barely breaking a sweat. They tied a season high with 67 first half points.
Isaiah Thomas has 10 points and 6 assists in 15 minutes of play off the bench. He only had more than 6 assists in an entire game 5 times for the Suns this year.
Is this on the coach or the players? Some of it on the coach, staying with Marcus Thornton for 9 minutes despite Thornton moving like he was dragging a bag of rocks behind him. And some on him leaving Brandan Wright at PF despite Jae Crowder making three after three as the stretch four.
But a big part has to be on the players for not playing their hardest.
Celtics up 67-50 at the end of one.
The Suns came out in the third quarter with more fire, but still could not stop the Celtics from scoring. They even got some midrange jumpers from Tyler Zeller to keep the Suns at bay.
But then Brandon Knight made a couple of timely threes (when was the last time we saw those?) and helped fuel the Suns to a big run to pull within 6 (77-71) before the Celtics came up a couple of loose balls on scrambles and pushed it back to 10.
Then you could tell the playoff push was over and the fight for the future was fully in play when Eric Bledsoe was subbed for Archie Goodwin at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.
The Celtics maintained their lead while the Suns trotted out guys who were 20 (Archie), 21 (Len), 23 (Knight), 25 (Keef) and 29 (P.J.).
Hey at least the guys are playing with fire!
Celtics by 10 at the end of three, after Evan Turner had their first three of the second half at the perfect time.
The Suns came out in the fourth much like the last two quarters: trying hard, but underperforming. The Celtics were actually trying to give the game away but the lead had been so big (18 points) and the Suns so discombobulated that it was still the Celtics game for much of the night.
The Suns had a real hard time staying consistent, despite any lineup changes to try for it.
After pulling within 7, the Celtics got a nice roll on a drive by Bass and Bledsoe took a bad shot on the other end thinking he was fouled. No call. Back up nine.
Then the Suns got turned up again, made some real nice defensive plays at the rim and some hustle plays to pull the game to within three, but then they fell apart again.
They got it to three at the 6 minute mark and stayed there until the 3:11 mark because they couldn't make shots (including some drives to the rim) when Avery Bradley made another three in transition to put the Celtics back up 6 points.
The tired Celtics are trying to give this game away and the Suns just aren't taking it.