One minute and 37 seconds. That’s how long the Boston Celtics had a lead while facing the Phoenix Suns at home. The Suns beat the Boston Celtics 123-119 on the road to put their record at 18-24 on the season. The team was firing from all cylinders and were able to take advantage of a Celtics team that’s missing Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.
Though the Celtics’ defense was ultra aggressive, the Suns offense was on fire with all but one of the starters (Ricky Rubio) scoring double digit points. The one that really stood out was Mikal Bridges, who started his second game in a row as Kelly Oubre Jr. is still nursing a concussion injury. Bridges had a stellar performance as the second year pro scored 25 points off going 10-13 shooting while hitting six of eight from the three point line. Not to mention he racked up two steals and two blocks.
While Bridges went off, Devin Booker had himself another strong night, scoring a team-high 39 points (22 coming in the first half, a season high stat for the Kentucky product). Booker was facing gritty defense all night long but was able to fight through the contact and either finish the layup or get that little breathing room necessary to score. He nearly hit a triple-double but he finished the night with nine assist, 10 rebounds and two steals. Perhaps the craziest stat from Booker tonight is he only attempted 20 shots tonight. He made 12 of them and was able to go to the line 15 times to miss only once there. Hell of a performance from the franchise star.
Deandre Ayton also continued his run of strong play, scoring 26 tonight and racking up 15 rebounds, two blocks and was nearly perfect from the free-throw line, going 10-11. Whenever Ayton was on the court, he was able to enforce his will on the Celtics, constantly grabbing the rebound, get that second chance shot and make life miserable for Boston. Seeing Ayton build from his performance against the Knicks and do that well against a team like Boston is something every Suns fan wants to see.
For the Celtics, it was a tough night in general for the team. The Suns laid it on Boston all night long, keeping their foot on the gas and whenever Boston got close like in the beginning of the second quarter, the Suns kicked it to another gear. It’s tough to keep pace when arguably your best player isn’t playing in Walker but Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart picked up the workload for the team, scoring 26 and 37 respectively. Gordon Hayward also got 22 tonight to help the wounded Celtics but with only 22 points from the bench, there was no way they could overcome the odds.
The Suns got a big statement win in Boston and keep pace for a crowded chase for the eighth seed.
Phoenix will return home and face the San Antonio Spurs Monday January 20th.