The Celtics lead by as many as 35 points and trounced the Suns by 104-87 as one of a full slate of games on Martin Luther King Day.
Call it the redemption of Glen Davis. If not redemption, then maturation.
The TNT announcers mentioned and showed the now famous scene (Portland game) of Glen Davis getting a stern dressing down by Garnett and his highly emotional response the end of the Celtic bench – for all to see on national TV. Big Baby, indeed.
With Kendrick Perkins out with an injured shoulder, the Celtics needed Davis to step up big time against a rejuvenated league behemoth named Shaquille O’Neal. Glen finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds (2nd highest this season). But it was his defense on Shaq that was remarkable.
Celtics Destroy Suns
The Celtics rolled over the Suns for an incredible 30 point lead by half time. It got as high as 35 before the Suns whittled it down in the 4th quarter against the Celtics’ deep end of the bench.
Rajon Rondo took game honors with 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting including a three pointer and two other jumpshots, all the while making life difficult for Steve Nash, who finished with 12 points, 8 assists, and 5 turnovers. Rondo had 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 turnovers.
Rondo has seriously outplayed Devin Harris and Steve Nash, two of the NBA’s finest point guards, in his last three games.
There was plenty of love to go around. Paul Pierce finished close to triple double with 12 points, 8 rebounds, while tieing Nash for game honors with 8 assists. Ray Allen finished with 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting and 4 of 5 from the arc.
Kevin Garnett played more center than he would like to but less than he might have had to, thanks to Davis. KG finished with 16 points on just 7 of 10 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and a block with zero turnovers, while playing stellar defense against Shaq and Amare Stoudamire. Amare finished with 3 points, 0-7 shooting, a single rebound, and 4 turnovers.
Like the last game against the Nets, the Celtics began with a 6-0 run courtesy of Paul Pierce, as he opened with a jump shot, lay-up, and turnaround jumper. The Cs went up by 21-7 and finished the first quarter 30-15, as Ray Allen took over the scoring load with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Pierce added 8 to the effort.
The Celtics defense was excellent and the Suns responded a bit like the Nets – stunned. the Celtics doubled Shaq and Amare with different people but primarily with Brian Scalabrine. Brian theoretically started at center again, but mostly played the PF on defense. While his shot was off, he defended solidly against the Sun big men.
The Celtics harassed the Suns into 9 turnovers in the opening period and 15 by half time. The game was over as the Celtics led by 64-34.
Davis was so effective against Shaq, that it freed up Garnett to play Amare Stoudamire, who was shut down completely. Along the way Shaq tattooed Davis twice, once with a well placed elbow to the head and again with a two hand push as Davis was attempting to shoot over him.
But Davis did his job and moreso, as he made life difficult for Shaq while he was on him. Davis also hit a few jump shots and had a power dunk around Louis Amundson. Amundson had13 points on 5 of 6 shots and 3 blocks in 23 minutes.
Shaq finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Phoenix.
Unusual Stat of the Night
The Celtics shot 94 times, which is, I believe their season high.
The Celtics assisted 30 times on 45 made baskets.
The Suns had just 58 points heading into the fourth quarter.
That is largely a result of the 23 turnovers, 12 of which were steals, few time outs, and 15 fastbreak points. The game plan was to push the ball whenever possible. The Celtics had a number of ‘leak outs’ for easy baskets in the first half.
The Celtics looked crisp and did it against a talented team. Shaq was slow on transition defense (surprise) and the Celtics took full advantage of that. But the rest of the Sun’s defense was lacking as well. With solid ball movement, the Celtics had a number of open looks throughout the game.
Formerly, the highest example of a transition team, with Terry Porter and Shaq, the Suns are now a team in transition. The Celtics are finding themselves and are back to playing suffocating defense.
Next up: Wednesday at Miami