Celtics lose third straight as Suns roll at home

The Boston Celtics already were in trouble without Paul Pierce.

Take Kevin Garnett away, too, and it got ugly against the Phoenix

Suns.

Amare Stoudemire and Channing Frye scored 26 points apiece,

and the Suns handed what was left of the Celtics their third

straight loss, 116-98 on Wednesday night.

Without Garnett to guard him, Stoudemire scored 18 on 9-of-10

shooting in the first quarter and finished 11 of 14 from the field.

Foul trouble kept him from adding significantly to his statistics.

Frye had a season best in scoring, sinking 6-of-9 3-pointers

and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Suns swept the two-game season

series.

“It’s a win over the Celtics. We’ll take it,” Phoenix coach

Alvin Gentry said. “They don’t really put an asterisk by it and say

Kevin Garnett wasn’t here, so we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Eddie House led the Celtics with 19 points, going 5 of 7 on

3s. Ray Allen managed 15 points of 4-of-13 shooting in the final

stop of what turned out to be an awful four-game trip.

“When you take your best two scorers off the floor against a

scoring basketball team, and your best defender off the floor, you

may not win that game,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “So this game

doesn’t affect me at all.”

Rivers was still upset, though, about the Celtics’ close

losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors in the

two previous games.

“The lesson that’s learned on this trip is not from tonight,”

Rivers said. “The lesson that we should learn on this trip is when

you give away a game with the Clippers when you’re healthy, then

you do it again, then when you’re injured you need those games

back.”

The Suns, who improved to 13-2 at home, never trailed after a

16-0 first-quarter run.

“They tried to play the (pick and) roll, they didn’t want me

to score inside the paint and I was able to get the jumper going,”

Stoudemire said. “When the jumper starts falling, then it’s tough

to defend us.”

Leandro Barbosa added 17 points for Phoenix, coming off a

118-103 home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. Rajon

Rondo played 33 minutes despite a sore hamstring for Boston and

scored 13.

It is Boston’s longest losing streak since dropping four

straight last Jan. 4-9.

Boston was without Pierce for the fourth straight game with a

knee infection. Garnett joined him on the sidelines Wednesday with

a hyperextended right knee.

Rivers said Garnett was hurt in the loss to the Clippers on

Sunday and didn’t look right in the loss at Golden State on Monday.

The 16-0 run put Phoenix up 24-12 on Stoudemire’s 7-foot bank

shot on a pass from Steve Nash.

The Suns stretched it to 38-23 after Barbosa’s 21-footer with

8:47 left in the half. Barbosa sank a 31-footer as the shot clock

expired to put Phoenix up 44-30 6:21 from the break.

“We came out kind of lollygagging, going through the motions,

and they came out playing hard,” House said, “and they got us.”

Boston cut the lead to 48-39 on House’s 3-pointer with 3 1/2

minutes to go in the half, but Kendrick Perkins drew a technical

foul that stemmed the momentum.

“We cut it to nine points and then he gets a tech,” Rivers

said, “I have no idea over what. He’s got to grow up. He’s got to

get better.”

Stoudemire scored four, Frye sank a 3-pointer and Jason

Richardson scored six in a 13-2 run in the third. Richardson capped

the spurt with a 22-footer that put Phoenix ahead 77-57 with 4:43

left in the quarter.

Notes: The Celtics were 13-1 on the road before

their trip West. … Boston had lost by no more than 11 in its

seven losses going into the game. … Frye matched his season high

in 3-pointers. … Phoenix is the second team to sweep a season

series with the Celtics since the 2007-08 season. The Los Angeles

Lakers did it last season. … Besides House, the rest of the

Celtics made 1 of 14 3-pointers. … Boston plays at home against

Toronto on Saturday, then has three days off before hitting the

road again.