Rapid Reaction: Celtics 113, Suns 88
THE NITTY GRITTY
Starting in place of Kevin Garnett (a rest day), Jeff Green scored a season-high 31 points on super-efficient 11-of-14 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, five blocks and two steals. Green was nothing short of spectacular in 39 minutes of play, finishing plus-26 in plus/minus. Avery Bradley was the only other Boston starter in double figures (13 points), while the Celtics got a boost from their newest faces in Jordan Crawford (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) and Terrence Williams (9 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds). Chris Wilcox added 14 points -- almost all of the dunk variety -- on 7-of-9 shooting over 21:37.
FAST START FOR C'S
The Celtics scored the game's first 13 points to set the tone for the night. Goran Dragic broke up the shutout with a 12-foot floater with 8:18 to play in the quarter. Green scored 13 first-quarter points (on 5-of-6 shooting), and Boston led 28-20 after the frame (the Suns shot a mere 36.4 percent over those first 12 minutes).
The Celtics started the first half quickly and finished it strong as well. Up seven with little more than two minutes to play in the second quarter, Boston went on a little 7-0 burst highlighted by Brandon Bass' hustle putback dunk and Bradley's layup, which put Boston up 53-39. The Celtics were up 12 at halftime and absolutely blew the doors off the game in the fourth quarter.
CRAWFORD DEBUTS FOR BOSTON
Crawford made his Boston debut when he checked in with 2:04 to play in the first quarter. Crawford missed his first two attempts but buried a corner 3-pointer early in the second frame, bowing his head as if relieved to get his first points. In the fourth quarter, Crawford added two buckets by attacking the basket, then buried another triple. Crawford finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting over 17:18.
PAIN IN THE NECK
Given all the injury woes Boston has endured recently, Celtics fans held their collective breath when Paul Pierce left the game holding his neck as the second half began. It appeared to simply be a stinger (remember, too, that Pierce battled a pinched nerve earlier in the year). He worked through the pain and quickly returned to the floor.
WHAT IT MEANS
Go ahead and use up your "The Celtics are better without KG!" jokes. Green was otherworldly, with his best all-around game in a Boston uniform (even beyond the scoring, he was spectacular). Even rookie Fab Melo got 3:42 of floor time with the Celtics up big in the final minutes. The Celtics have an off day Saturday before closing out this five-game road trip with a back-to-back on Sunday (Portland) and Monday (Utah). Some much-needed rest (and practice time for the newcomers) looms after the trip with just one game on the schedule over the next seven days.
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