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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Celtics Win Their Fourth In A Row, Get Back Over .500 In The Process

The Celtics are finally starting to hit their groove and it only took nearly half of the 2012-13 season to figure things out with all their new players. Boston (18-17, 11-6 home) won its fourth straight game with a 87-79 victory against Phoenix (12-25, 2-16 away) tonight at TD Garden, getting them over .500 for the first time since their Christmas day win in Brooklyn.

Beating the Suns isn't a very notable accomplishment these days but the way the Celts did it is what is worth mentioning. Kevin Garnett (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals) was the only starter to score in double figures. I can't remember the last time the Celtics' bench outscored their starters, especially in a win.

Boston's bench had its best game of the season as they outscored Phoenix's reserves 47-16. A year removed from major heart surgery, Jeff Green had 14 points. Jared Sullinger had 12 points and 16 rebounds (a season-high for a Celtic) and Jason Terry added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Phoenix is a model UN with an Argentian-Luis Scola (16 points, 8 rebounds), Pole-Marcin Gortat (12 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks), Yugoslavian-Goran Dragic (12 points, 5 rebounds) and Superfan from BC-Jared Dudley (14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) all in their starting lineup. Unfortunately for them, the NBA doesn't award extra points for diversity so the Suns are basically screwed.

The Suns led 24-23 after one quarter but the Celts ran out to a 53-41 halftime advantage. Phoenix rallied with a 23-14 third quarter but Boston had enough energy (mostly from the bench) to close it out in the fourth quarter (20-15).

Boston shot 6.4% better than Phoenix (45.7-39.3%) from the field, they had seven more steals (12-5) and three less team turnovers (16-13). Other than a couple vicious dunks by Green and some great work on the glass by Sullinger, it wasn't pretty but the C's got the job done against a truly awful team.

Things will certainly pick up on Friday as Boston hosts Houston (21-15, 3rd in Southwest Division), one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Celtics will be looking for some revenge after the Rockets beat them handily, 101-89 back on December 14 in Houston. It should be a good one since James Harden is playing at an All-Star level and Houston has a bunch of solid complimentary pieces including Harvard's Jeremy Lin that seem to fit together perfectly.

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