Suns sunk by new-look Celtics
GameTrax: Stats and more
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin Garnett waited more than a month to get back on the court with the Phoenix Suns. When he did, he had plenty of answers for them.
Garnett scored 28 points with 11 rebounds to help the Celtics win 115-103 on Wednesday night and bounce back from a Jan. 28 loss in Phoenix that prompted Suns coach Alvin Gentry to say he had "lost a little respect" for Garnett.
"I play the game really hard. I play with my heart. I never go around making excuses about that, so who cares about what they're talking about?" said Garnett, who picked up a technical foul with 17 seconds left in the game. "Alvin Gentry was asking me for tickets for the first round of the playoffs and I told him I'd hook him up. That's what that was about."
Paul Pierce scored 16 points with 13 rebounds -- picking up a technical foul of his own -- and Rajon Rondo scored 16 with 15 assists to snap Phoenix's four-game winning streak. Rondo was also involved in some hijinks at the final buzzer when he decided to put up a 3-pointer while virtually everyone else was walking off the court.
Jared Dudley fouled him, forcing the referees to review the play, put time on the clock and send Rondo to the line for three meaningless free throws.
"It was an intense game, but it wasn't," Rondo said. "We had it under control the whole game."
It was the first time the teams played since Garnett poked Channing Frye in the groin during an 88-71 Suns victory that left Gentry criticizing Garnett. That was Phoenix's third straight victory over Boston.
The Celtics put an end to that quickly.
Garnett scored 12 points in the first quarter on Wednesday as they jumped to a 13-point lead, and they led by 29 in the second half before Phoenix scored the last nine points in the third quarter and the first nine of the fourth. But the Suns, who had won four straight, never again got closer than eight points.
"I think all our guys were" extra motivated, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "That's what the explosion early was about. ... I thought their bench, their coaches were talking, which I don't think you should ever (do) if you have a suit and tie on and actually can't play. I don't think you should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor."
Aaron Brooks scored 17 points, Dudley had 15 and fellow reserve Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Suns played the last 17 minutes without Vince Carter and Frye, who banged heads and left the game.
Gentry said any talk of carry-over from the previous game was "making a big deal out of nothing."
"In the grand scheme of things, it's one game that we play, and he played great," Gentry said. "You've got to give him credit. He played great defensively, and offensively, made everything going to the basket, made some jump shots. He's tough to guard in those situations."
The game was the Boston debut of the new-look Celtics, who acquired Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic at the trading deadline and added Troy Murphy earlier Wednesday.
Krstic had 13 points, Green scored six in 17 minutes and Murphy scored one point in 14 minutes.
But the defending Eastern Conference champions won for the sixth time in seven games and moved 1 games ahead of the Miami Heat in the race for the best record in the East.
The Suns got a scare when Frye and Carter banged heads with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Frye got up after a minute or two, but Carter stayed on the court longer and eventually walked off, rubbing his head and clearly unsteady on his feet.
The team said Frye had a bruised eye and Carter had a cut on his mouth. Neither returned.
Boston had an injury scare of its own when Glen "Big Baby" Davis hurt his left knee, which was already wrapped in a brace, jumping to dunk in the final minute. The team said he had a strained patella tendon; Davis said he would have an MRI on Thursday.
Garnett scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Celtics shot 60 percent -- getting 18 points in the paint -- and jumped to a 13-point lead. He had 18 at the half, when Boston led 62-42.
The Celtics led by as many as 29 in the quarter, and held a 91-63 lead with 2 minutes left in the quarter before Dudley hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then a pair of free throws. Gortat made one of two foul shots to end the quarter, then Phoenix scored the first nine points in the fourth to make it a 10-point game.
It was 93-85 when Rondo made a jumper and then assisted on Krstic's layup to make it a 12-point game.
NOTES: Murphy signed earlier Wednesday. He is the first Murphy to wear the
shamrock since Dick Murphy played seven games in the NBA's inaugural
season, 1946-47. ... Pierce and Steve Nash are neck-and-neck for the
top 10 all time in 3-pointers. Pierce did not make any in the game and
finished with 1,550 in his career; Nash hit one and has 1,547. Ray
Allen is the all-time leader; he was 4-for-6 on Wednesday and has
2,578. ... Phoenix's bench outscored its starters 63-40 and outscored
Boston's bench 63-23.