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Phoenix Suns fight out of big hole but fall to Boston Celtics in the end, 102-99

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A 20-point deficit in the 3rd quarter proves too much for the Suns to overcome despite a spirited effort.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In 1975-76, the Sunderella Suns surprised the basketball world to challenge the mighty Boston Celtics for the NBA Championship. Forty years later, with that team being honored at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the 2015-16 Phoenix Suns were a microcosm of that series against the Boston Celtics — going down big early, fighting back late, but ultimately turning into a pumpkin at midnight in a 102-99 defeat.

Phoenix trailed 64-44 early in the 3rd quarter before a combination of Boston complacency and increased urgency by the Suns cut the lead to 74-73 with 2:43 to play in the quarter. Boston's Isaiah Thomas would answer with seven of his 19 2nd-half points to close the quarter, but the Suns were far from finished.

With Boston holding a 96-86 lead with 4:24 left to play, the Suns went on an 11-2 run, sparked by six points from Devin Booker, to pull within a single point. However, Booker missed an 18-footer with a chance to take the lead, and after Thomas missed a 3 of his own, Brandon Knight pulled the string on a 3 on the following possession, forcing the Suns to foul with 21.1 seconds left. Marcus Smart hit both free throws to put the Celtics ahead 100-97, but Booker crashed the glass for a putback. Thomas made 1 of 2 free throws to leave the window open for the Suns, but Booker had his drive blocked by Evan Turner. Smart hit the first free throw and missed the second, but the Suns couldn't get a desperation shot attempt off in time.

The Suns were led by Booker's 21 points, followed by Knight's 19 and Mirza Teletovic's 17. P.J. Tucker led all Suns with 10 rebounds, as he started at power forward with Jon Leuer out with an upset stomach.

The Celtics got strong games from Thomas (28 points), Turner (17 points, 11 rebounds), and Kelly Olynyk (16 points) to sweep the season series from the Suns.