Marcus Smart’s career-high 37 points not enough to lift Celtics over Suns

Jan 18, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) drives against the Phoenix Suns during the second quarter at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

By Tristan Deschenes, 98.5 The Sports Hub

The Boston Celtics' gross display of basketball continued Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns.

And not even a career-high 37 points -- and a Celtics record of eleven made threes by a single player -- from Marcus Smart could save the C's, as the Celtics dropped their third straight game by a score 123-119 to the Phoenix Suns. The loss marks the second time the Celtics have lost three straight games this season, and they've now lost six of their last eight games.

For what felt like the millionth game in a row, the Celtics' slow start put them behind early. as Boston went down 26-20 in the first quarter behind 11 points from Phoenix superstar Devin Booker.

The Celtics would go back and forth in the second quarter, with Smart and Booker going at it; Booker increased the Suns' lead to 50-40 after a three with 2:25 left in the second quarter, and Mikal Bridges got the Suns' lead up 53-40 on a three with 1:52 remaining in the half. Smart, however, would keep the Boston deficit to single digits by knocking two three pointers with under a minute left to keep the Phoenix lead at 60-51.

The Celtics could not make much progress in the third,  and while Boston would get the lead down to single digits multiple times, the Suns would respond and get the lead back up to 10, and took an 11-point lead into the final 12 minutes of play.

A Celtics run at the beginning of the fourth quarter got the deficit down five with 9:13 to go, and the Celtics finally looked like they finally had momentum until Bridges knocked down a three to get the Phoenix lead back up to 11 with 7:39 left.

After Smart responded with another three-pointer to get the lead back down to eight, Bridges would hit a three at the 4:54 mark to increase the lead to 105-91. Bridges would knock down another three with 3:42 to get the lead back 109-95.

Just like their game against the Bucks, the Green refused to give up.

Smart knocked down his 10th three pointer of the game, with 1:42 left, to get the Suns lead down to 114-107. The Celtics would get the lead down to three points after a Daniel Theis fastbreak dunk made the score 114-111 with 1:01 to go.

With the Celtics' deficit down to three, they just needed a stop to feel like they had a chance. But Bridges took the hearts right out of the Celtics with a tough fadeaway jumper that hung on the edge of the rim for a long time before dropping and increasing the Phoenix lead to 116-111 with just under 37 seconds to go.

Boston still had a chance, but a perfect inbound play was botched when Gordon Hayward missed a wide open alley-oop with 35 seconds left. Booker would put the game away with free throws.

Boston was led by Smart, who scored 37 points including a wild stat line from the three point line, as No. 36 shot 11-for-22 from beyond the arc and broke the Celtics' team record for most three pointers in a game by a single player. The previous record was nine. (If someone told me that Marcus Smart would hold the single game three-point record for the Boston Celtics, I would have been on the floor laughing.)

Boston wings Jayson Tatum scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Gordon Hayward added 22 points on another bad shooting night (8-for-20). The Celtics played without Kemba Walker (knee) and Jaylen Brown (thumb).

The Suns were led byBooker who dropped a casual 39 points on the Celtics. Booker came into the game averaging 35.5 points per game on the Boston parquet, and he certainly belongs on the list of Celtic Killers. Deandre Ayton had a big night as well, scoring 26 points and grabbing 15 rebounds by the night's end. A big surprise for Suns was the contribution that they got from Bridges, as Bridges bucked the season trend (he entered Saturday with a 29 percent success rate from downtown), and knocked down six of eight from deep and scored 26 points.

The Celtics will face off against Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night at 7:30 PM.