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Fri, Jan 20, 2012 - 7:30 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Celtics struggle on offense in Suns loss

Boston's offense struggled mightily against a team not known for playing strong defense
Boston's offense struggled mightily against a team not known for playing strong defense
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BOSTON (AP)

Marcin Gortat scored five straight Phoenix baskets early in the game. By the time the first quarter was over, he had 14 points and four rebounds.

''Midway through the first,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, ''he should have stopped and put his name on the (Hall of Fame) ballot.''

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Gortat finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Steve Nash had 11 points and nine assists to lead Phoenix to a 79-71 victory over Boston on Friday night. The Suns won their second straight road game, having snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Knicks on Wednesday.

''Steve put on a show, and people found me in the right spots,'' Gortat said. ''We have to start winning. We tripped a couple of times at home. Now we need to make it up on the road.''

Gortat, who was one short of his career high in points, helped the Suns jump to a 16-8 lead with 10 of the game's first 24 points, then he added a pair of layups at the end of the first.

The Celtics took a brief lead, 53-50, midway through the third quarter before Phoenix scored the next 12 points. After Mickael Pietrus hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 76-71, Gortat lumbered down the lane and drew a foul from Kevin Garnett before sinking two free throws to clinch it.

It was Gortat's seventh consecutive double-double.

Ray Allen had 14 points and six rebounds for the Celtics, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to 0-4 against the Western Conference. Playing without Rajon Rondo, their most consistent starter this year, the Celtics had their lowest-scoring game of the season.

''We should be better than that,'' Rivers said. ''It's on me. If one guy doesn't play, you should be able to play through it.''

Paul Pierce scored 12 points with six assists and Garnett had 10 points and five rebounds. Avery Bradley scored 10 points with four rebounds and one assist while filling in for Rondo, who was injured Wednesday night when he took a hard foul from Toronto's Linas Kleiza while going to the basket.

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An MRI was negative. Rivers wouldn't put a timetable on Rondo's return, though the point guard was hoping to be back for Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards.

Keyon Dooling missed his fifth straight game with a right knee injury.

The Celtics finished with 20 assists - same as the Suns - but just four from three different players at the point.

''We didn't have our starting point guard. We didn't have our backup point guard,'' Rivers said, adding that he tried to run plays through Pierce, Garnett and Marquis Daniels. ''I mean, we were just searching.''

The Suns led by 11 at halftime. Boston went on a 14-2 run in the middle of the third quarter, taking a 53-50 lead on Pietrus' 3-pointer. With Boston still up by 3, the Suns scored 12 straight points to take a 64-55 lead early in the fourth.

Notes: Former Boston College star Jared Dudley scored 12 points in 19 minutes as a reserve for Phoenix. ... New England Patriots players Deion Branch and Patrick Chung took in the game from courtside. ... Boston C Jermaine O'Neal played in his 900th NBA game. ... With Rondo out, Garnett and Brandon Bass are the only Celtics to have played in every game this season. ... Boston snapped a five-game slide on Wednesday night. ... It was the Suns' first time winning consecutive road games all season. ... Allen had gone three straight games without scoring in double digits.

Tagged: Celtics, Suns, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Marcin Gortat

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