Former BC star Dudley boosts Suns off bench
BOSTON -- Three thoughts after the Suns handed the Celtics their first defeat of the 2009-10 season, 110-103, Friday night at the TD Garden.
Dudley Do-Right: Boston College product Jared Dudley produced a monster night near his old digs. Dudley finished with 10 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds off the bench, but it hardly tells the story of the spark he provided the Suns coming off the bench. Dudley logged 30 minutes -- more than starting forward Grant Hill -- and was an absolute nuisance in the defensive end.
"I thought the two most important guys on the floor were [Louis] Amundson and Dudley," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Those two guys -- their effort and energy, defensive denial, shooting the ball and keep it alive -- they set the entire tone for the game. When they came in the game, the game changed. Remember before when I said we didn't want them to keep Grant Hill on the floor? No, no, we wanted him on the floor instead of Dudley; he played fantastic. [Dudley] was just a thorn in our butt."
Dudley finished with a game-high plus-14 in the plus/minus category, showing just how much the Suns thrived with him on the floor, and Amundson (6 points, 5 rebounds) was plus-10. For the first time all season, Boston's bench was outplayed by an opponent's second unit.
"I think our bench has played great, and everybody up here knows Jared Dudley," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "I'll tell you, that guy is a coach's dream. We never even -- I don't even know what he did -- because we never look at the stat sheet with him. But he always comes up with a big defensive play, with a big steal. He's really kind of got the second unit, he's the one that's kind of created the identity of that second unit.
"Our guys laugh at him all the time, 'cause when he gets a dunk in practice, everybody is like, 'Ooooh.' He is not the world's greatest athlete, let's put it that way. But he's probably our smartest player. I don't know if I've ever had a player that was as intelligent as he is."
Richardson can't miss: Phoenix shooting guard Jason Richardson connected on 10 of 16 attempts from the floor -- including a scorching 6-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc -- while pumping in a game-high 34 points. Richardson alone raised the Suns' field goal percentage by more than 3 percentage points overall (50 percent for the game), and he paced a 3-point shooting barrage that finished 13-of-24 (54.2 percent).
It was the fifth time in 18 career games against Boston that Richardson has erupted for 30 or more points. "Richardson just kicked our butt," Rivers said. "He loves us."
Said Richardson: "It was a feeling tonight. Some nights are just like that, where everything you throw up still goes in. This was one of those nights tonight. We've got a lot of guys that can do that, and we're the type of team that shares the ball. Any given night, any one of us could do that."
Downtown disparity: While the Suns thrived beyond the arc, the Celtics hit only 4 of 18 attempts (22.2 percent), including an 0-for-6 effort from Rasheed Wallace, who, after missing a 3-pointer with little more than a minute to go, tossed his headband in frustration before kicking a chair on the Celtics' sideline during a TV timeout.
How good was it for the Suns? Center Channing Frye drilled a 3-pointer with 4:16 remaining to put the Suns on top 101-94. Boston never got close again.
"I think Channing Frye being a center is unusual," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who finished with 16 points and was 2-of-5 beyond the 3-point line. "He really stretches the defense. A guy who can knock down 3s, along with Jason [Richardson] and Steve [Nash]. They spread the court well, a lot of pick-and-rolls in the rotation, and when they skip the ball, we were a step slower. I thought all night, to the 3-point shooters, instead of running them off the line, we stopped short and allowed them to shoot the 3, even knowing that they are a 3-point-shooting team. That's their system, that's the situations they put you in and it worked to their advantage."
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