The short-handed Boston Celtics have already lost more times on
their current road trip than they did in their first 14 road games.
Avoiding a third straight defeat before they head home won’t be
That’s because the Phoenix Suns are feeling especially confident
after perhaps their most significant win of the season, and they’ll
try to complete a season sweep of the Celtics on Wednesday
An impressive 86-77 win at Orlando on Christmas Day without Paul
Pierce improved the Celtics to 13-1 on the road, but they found a
pair of unexpected hurdles on the West Coast leg of their trip.
After blowing a three-point lead in the final 10 seconds and
losing 92-90 on a buzzer-beater to the Los Angeles Clippers on
Sunday night, the Celtics coughed up a 16-point first-quarter lead
in a 103-99 defeat to lowly Golden State on Monday.
“Obviously, (Sunday) was frustrating for us and to get in
basically the same situation (Monday) is not good,” guard Ray Allen
said. “We have to shore it up.”
The Celtics (23-7) have certainly been missing Pierce, who is
recovering from a knee infection and will not return until Saturday
at the earliest.
Rajon Rondo led the way with 30 points and 15 assists while
Allen added 24 points, but Boston’s bench matched a season low with
15 points against the fast-paced Warriors.
The team’s depth may have taken another hit Monday after forward
Glen Davis left the game with an ankle injury. His status is
Boston, accustomed to a defensive style while allowing an
NBA-low 91.9 points per game, may face another up-tempo game
against the Suns, who lead the league by averaging 109.8
Before facing the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night, Phoenix
(20-12) had lost three of four, including its first two home
defeats. But the Suns erased any bad feelings with a 118-103 win
over the reigning NBA champions.
“Big win for us definitely,” said forward Amare Stoudemire, who
had 26 points. “Coming off a couple of tough losses, (Monday) was a
big momentum change and a good confidence builder for us.”
While Steve Nash had 16 points and 13 assists for his 18th
double-double as the Suns topped 115 points for the 13th time, it
was Phoenix’s play at the other end of the floor that caught coach
Alvin Gentry’s attention.
Gentry had been upset after the Suns allowed a season-high in
points in a 132-127 loss at Golden State on Saturday, but his team
held the Lakers to 43.5 percent shooting.
“I thought we played with so much energy and did a great job
defensively,” Gentry said.
Another key for Phoenix was its bench play, as Jared Dudley had
19 points and seven rebounds to lead a group of reserves that
totaled 52 points. Goran Dragic added 14 points while Leandro
Barbosa had 11.
“Our bench did about the best job they have done all year,”
Jason Richardson led the way with 34 points as the starters
carried Phoenix to a 110-103 win at Boston on Nov. 6. The Suns have
a chance to return the favor after the Celtics swept the 2008-09