The Suns had a balanced attack, with 7 different players scoring 10+ points in the first three quarters and 2 more with 6+ points, led by JaVale McGee’s 21 points and 15 rebounds in only 26 minutes.
After a close first quarter, the Suns blasted the Celtics in the second, outscoring them 32-15 to take an 18-point halftime lead. By the half, JaVale McGee and Jalen Smith had combined for 18 points (8-14 shooting, 2-5 on threes), 15 rebounds and 3 blocks!
The second half was more of the same, and the Suns pushed the lead into the 20s by early in the 4th to put the game on ice.
Jalen Smith had the most impactful game of his career to date (7 points, 9 rebounds) just when the Suns needed it most against a tall Boston lineup with Robert Williams, Al Horford and Enes
Suns win, 111-90.
They are now 21-4 on the season — their best start since Steve Nash’s first MVP year in 2004-05.
Injured/out of note:
Suns: Deandre Ayton (illness, non-COVID), Devin Booker (hamstring). Doolie, Frank and Dario too.
Celtics: Jaylen Brown.
First half notes
The game opened with a string of Suns scores against a pretty good Celtics defense. After a JaVale McGee block on Marcus Smart’s drive, followed by Jae Crowder with his new floater, Mikal Bridges with a corner three, a McGee finish on a hard roll, Crowder on yet another floater, Shamet on a short jumper before the Suns missed a shot.
For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum made a couple of three-point plays to keep the game close, with the Suns leading 11-8 before the home team’s first miss.
The Celtics, with both Robert Williams and Al Horford in the starting lineup, attacked the basket on just about every play and Boston took the lead 16-15 at the halfway mark of the first quarter. Jayson Tatum was 5-for-7 for 12 of the Celtics 16 points, who were shooting 60% from the field.
Both teams struggled to score the rest of the quarter, much closer to what we expected. Jalen Smith had a mid-quarter appearance to rest a tired McGee (Monty wants to keep him to stints no longer than 6 minutes)... and Stix wasn’t bad! A couple hustle plays, a putback and a rebound. Nice!
At the end of one, Suns lead 25-24. Talk about balanced attack: eight different Suns contributed to the 25 points, led by Cameron Payne with 5. Only Ish Wainright and Elfrid Payton failed to score yet (Ish got 2 shots at least).
When JaVale made a three to put the Suns up 30-26, then hustled to a putback of his own missed shot(s), the crowd came to life. McGee is already up to 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Then Jalen Smith came back and once again looked good! He had a nice contest to force a miss, then a block on a dunk attempt. Sure he airballed a three from a nice Paul assist, but Paul caught the rebound and chucked it to Mikal Bridges for an actual three to put the Suns up 42-30!
Then when he drained his first three, the crowd went even nutsier than when JaVale made one. Suns up 19 now!
At halftime, the Suns lead by 18. In a game where the Suns were supposed to be dominated without DA, Frank or Dario and with JaVale limited to 5-minute stints... we get the JALEN SMITH BREAKOUT. They combined for 18 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks at the half!
Suns up 57-39 at half.
The Celtics came out playing hard in the second half, picking up the ball handler full court on the rebound or inbounds, trying for big blocks (Robert Williams) and driving to the rim on offense.
But the Suns mostly held ground. The Celtics just couldn’t hit anything against the Suns defense, even when given THREE technical free throws (Crowder, Paul and Bridges) where the refs just didn’t like the Suns jawing at them.
The Celtics played their (mostly) starters against the Suns (mostly) bench unit to end the third quarter, and pulled back to within a dozen at one point.
Suns up 84-69 after three quarters. They have 7 players in double figures, no one with more than 15 points (JaVale McGee has 15 and 12 in 18 minutes) and another with 6 and 7 points. That’s balance!
The fourth quarter began again in the Suns favor, with the Suns going up by 22 before Boston brought Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart back in. The Suns responded with Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul, to keep the game in control.
Boston threw in the towel, putting in the deep bench, at the 5-minute mark with the Suns up 102-80. At the next dead ball, Monty Williams did the same.
JaVale McGee left with 21 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks — his best game as a Phoenix Sun (behind the 19/14 against the Rockets earlier this year). Jalen Smith now has 5 minutes to get his second career double-double himself.