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Marcin Gortat scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, 79-71 Friday night. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 14 points and Paul Pierce chipped in 12 points and six assists.
Rondo looked on from the sidelines with a sprained wrist as the Celtics scored a season-low 71 points. Doc Rivers announced an hour before tip off that his all-star point would sit and that second year guard Avery Bradley would start in his place. Bradley scored 10 points and swiped three steals in his first career start.
Bradley harassed Sun’s star point guard Steve Nash on defense all night. Nash scored just 11 points and turned the ball over four times, but recorded nine assists and controlled the pace of the game.
The Celtics trailed by 11 at the half. Early in the third quarter the Celtics went on an 18-to-4 run to take the lead, but Phoenix responded with a 12-0 run of their own. After regaining the lead the Suns never turned back. Allen cut the lead to five on a threepoint play with just under three minutes remaining. On the next possession former Boston College star Jared Dudley hit a straight-away three to steal the game’s momentum for good.
Dudley led the Suns’ bench effort with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. Brandon Bass was the lone bright spot off the Celtics’ bench with 11 points and six rebounds. The rest of the Celtics bench scored just 10 points and grabbed a mere three rebounds combined.
The Celtics turnover and shooting percentage problems continued Friday night. Boston shot 40 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 times. The Celtics also had trouble getting to the line and shot just two free throws in the first half.
Gortat and the Suns out-hustled the Celtics on the glass all night. Phoenix won the rebounding battle over the Celtics, 44-32.
If not having Rondo wasn’t bad enough for the Celtics, they also played without their backup point guard, Keyon Dooling. Dooling missed his fifth straight game with hyper-extended knee. Celtics’ rookie E’Twaun Moore struggled in Dooling’s place with just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
The loss dropped Boston to 5-9 on the season. Luckily for the Celtics, they get the 2-13 Washington Wizards next on Sunday afternoon. The Celtics have already beaten Washington twice this year.