Entering Thursday night’s game at TD Garden, the Phoenix Suns had won eight of their previous 10 games. Yet the Celtics – who have been red hot themselves – didn’t flinch, and led the game nearly wire-to-wire for a 99-86 win..
Sparking the effort was a breakout game from Kemba Walker. The Celtics’ point guard scored 32 points and shot a blistering 11-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-11 from three. It was a balanced effort as well, with 19 points in the first half and 13 in the second half.
Coming off their first consecutive off days since the All-Star break, the Celtics looked rejuvenated right from the start. They opened the game on a 21-11 run, and led 26-21 after the first quarter.
After Phoenix chipped into their lead, the Celtics put together another monster stretch. This time, they ran off 14 straight points, ramping up the defensive intensity. The Suns managed just 16 points in the second quarter, and Boston was up 53-37 at the half.
The game of runs continued in the third quarter. After building their lead all the way up to 21 points, the Celtics fell victim to a 14-2 Suns run that cut the margin to single digits. Boston steadied themselves in the final minutes of the frame, and took a 77-65 lead into the fourth quarter.
That double-digit lead held until the four minute mark of the fourth quarter. However, the Suns’ run came at a price, with Walker drawing a charging call on Devin Booker, which resulted in him fouling out. Losing Booker killed the Suns’ remaining momentum, and the Celtics closed the game out from there without incident.
Walker’s 32 points led all scorers, and tied his season high. Jayson Tatum backed him up with a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double, although he shot just 3-of-17 from the field. Marcus Smart added 11 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, and Payton Pritchard chipped in 10 points off the bench.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 32-27 on the season. They’ve now won eight of their last 11 games, and sit tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for the Celtics, to travel to Brooklyn for a game against the Nets tomorrow. That one tips off at 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 105.7 WROR.
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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.