Suns 110, Celtics 103
One game after going scoreless for just the third time in his career, Richardson had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead Phoenix to a 110-103 victory over the Celtics on Friday night. Richardson hit a 3-pointer for the Suns' first points and scored 14 in the first quarter alone.
"They could see after the first that I had the stroke going," Richardson said. "In this offense, every night it's going to be someone different. It was a feel tonight, like everything you throw up is going to go in. I wanted to come out, be aggressive and take it from there."
Steve Nash had 16 points with 12 assists for Phoenix, shaking loose to hit a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left after Boston closed an 11-point fourth-quarter gap to four points. Amare Stoudemire added 22 points, while Richardson finished 6 for 7 from 3-point range.
Richardson was suspended by the NBA for the first two games of the season following his conviction on drunken driving charges. In his third game back he went 0-for-4 in a loss to Orlando - just the third time in 595 career games he's played in that he didn't score.
"He's such a good player," Nash said. "We'd like to give him every chance to be successful."
Kevin Garnett had a season-high 26 points for Boston - the most he's scored since missing the end of the 2008-09 season and the playoffs with strained ligaments in his right knee.
Boston was trying to start 7-0 for the second time in three years. The Celtics won their first eight games in 2007-08 - and first 13 at home - en route to their record 17th NBA title.
Rajon Rondo scored 14 with 11 assists, and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each scored 16 points for Boston. Rasheed Wallace had eight points, missing all six 3-point attempts - five of them in the fourth quarter.
"The only thing I didn't like, with 3 1/2 minutes left, instead of searching for wide-open 2-pointers, we went into 3 mode. And I didn't think we had to do that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "That, to me, was uncharacteristic of us."
The Celtics open the season with eight games in 12 nights, including a stretch of four in five that ends tomorrow in New Jersey.
"If we were in the NFL, we'd have to wait a whole week," Allen said. "So we like the position we're in. We get a chance to go out and correct our mistakes."
Richardson scored the first eight Phoenix points in the fourth quarter while Boston went more than four minutes without scoring. It was 96-85 with 7:57 left before Wallace made a pair of baskets and Allen hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game.
The Suns led 104-100 with a minute left, then Nash got open for a 3-pointer and Pierce missed one of two free throws.
Rondo scored on a breakaway, but Stoudemire made a pair of free throws and Wallace missed another 3 try with 13 seconds left that could have cut it to three points.
The Suns led by as many as 11 in the second quarter before the Celtics closed the difference to 57-51 at the half.
NOTES: Celtics F Brian Scalabrine did not play because of back spasms.... Suns coach Alvin Gentry earned his 200th win. ... The Suns last started 4-1 in 2000-01. ... Red Sox slugger David Ortiz took in the game from courtside and participated in a dunk stunt between quarters. ... Former Boston College star Jared Dudley led all bench players with 10 points. ... The referees had to separate Channing Frye and Kendrick Perkins at the halftime buzzer. The players were given matching technicals.