EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns respond with complete effort to beat Boston Celtics

Feb 3, 2023, 8:18 PM

It was going to take their full arsenal in a shorthanded state to come out with a win, and that’s what the Phoenix Suns deployed on the Boston Celtics in a 106-94 Friday victory to start a five-game road trip on the east coast.

Phoenix (28-26) had one of those nights when everyone contributed offensively and worked their tails off defensively. It only played four reserves but all of them had at least seven points and combined for 36.

After a blowout loss at home to the Atlanta Hawks that included a bad start not getting any better, the Suns responded.

While they missed their first nine shots, they made 15 of their next 20. The energy was there from the get-go, and it was one of those nights where Boston had to decide if it was really going to fight for the win. Its secondary efforts were lacking after the Suns took care of business on the initial actions of a possession.

That type of response wasn’t there soon enough for the Celtics, as the Suns got up by as many as 18 in the mid-second quarter. And even though a 15-5 Celtics run came to open the second half for them to get within three, the Suns bench started the fourth quarter with a 14-2 run to take back control of the game and Boston didn’t have enough in ’em to get back in the game for the second time.

Damion Lee, Saben Lee, Jock Landale and Ish Wainright picked up what the Suns starters were putting down in terms of intensity and urgency. That group even stepped it up a notch, and for Wainright in particular, he finished the game in Torrey Craig’s starting spot and ended at 31 minutes. He had nine points, six rebounds, a steal and two blocks while Landale added nine points, seven rebounds and three assists. Both of them were superb.

Saben Lee’s powerful finish early in the fourth quarter summed it all up.

While Deandre Ayton dropped off scoring-wise after a strong first quarter that had him heavily involved, his defense was right there along with his teammates, a huge step for him in the right direction with how he’s regressed on that side of the floor. He had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Mikal Bridges was the guy again in the closing stages of the game and delivered again. He was 9-of-20 overall and 7-for-7 at the foul line for 25 points. That crunch-time work included this sweet touch-shot fall-away jumper.

Dario Saric was also very good with 14 points and 13 rebounds. He is typically a part of that bench unit but got the start after Cam Johnson was ruled out Friday afternoon due to right knee injury management. The Suns play in Detroit on Saturday, so not playing both games of a back-to-back makes sense for Johnson, but he was also not on the initial injury report and this comes after his minutes were greatly reduced on Wednesday.

Chris Paul provided 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum had a rough night with 3-of-15 shooting for 20 points while his counterpart Jaylen Brown scored a game-high 27.

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