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Feb 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) puts up a layup against the Boston Celtics during the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Following what has become a common theme on their west coast road trip, the Celtics fell behind early against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. However, unlike their previous contests, the C’s were never able to recover from their slow start, falling 100-91. 

With the loss, Boston falls to 12-10 on the season, and 7-7 on the road. 

Playing their second straight game without Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, the Celtics once against struggled out of the gate. Boston started the game by going 7-of-24 from the floor, and scored just 19 first quarter points. They were down 27-19 after one.

The Celtics forced their way back into the game with strong three point shooting – they were 11-of-24 from deep in the second quarter alone. That plus sloppy play from the Suns, who had seven turnovers in the first half, allowed Boston to erase what was once a 13-point lead. 

Feb 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Continuously chipping away, the Celtics tied the game up twice in the final two minutes of the half, once on a layup from Grant Williams then again a minute later on a Jeff Teague three. However, they never claimed a lead, and went into the half trailing 52-49.

Phoenix regained their balance out of the break, and jumped out to a 15-point lead with a 20-8 run early in the third quarter. Once again though, the Celtics wouldn’t allow themselves to be put away. Back-to-back threes from Payton Pritchard highlighted an 8-0 run to end the quarter. Heading to the fourth, it was 76-68 Phoenix.

After spending most of the fourth quarter down double-digits, another Pritchard three got the Celtics within a score, at 94-91. Unfortunately for the Celtics, that was followed by a Suns make and questionable over-the-back call on Grant Williams, which allowed Phoenix to stretch their lead to seven. It was all academic after that, as the Suns dribbled out the clock.

Feb 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) watches as he makes a three point basket against Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (27) during the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum finished with a game-high 23 points, but didn’t get much help. Kemba Walker has the team’s second-highest total with 14 points, but they didn’t come easy. The 30-year-old was 4-for-20 from the field, and 4-and-11 from three. He also had three turnovers.

Walker wasn’t the only Celtic to struggle shooting the basketball. As a team, Boston shot just 35.5 percent, more than 10 points below their season average of 47.7. Meanwhile, Phoenix was a red hot 48.8 percent from the field. The biggest discrepancy came inside, with the Celtics 26 points in the paint overshadowed by the Suns’ 46. 

The Celtics’ west coast road trip wraps up on Tuesday when they visit the Utah Jazz, owners of the best record in the Western Conference. Coverage begins on 98.5 The Sports Hub at 9:30 p.m., leading up to tip at 10:00.

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Celtics.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com