Celtics 113, Suns 88
PHOENIX -- Jeff Green, making his first start of the season in place of a resting Kevin Garnett, had 13 of his 31 points in the first quarter and the Boston Celtics scored the first 13 points of the game and never trailed in a 113-88 rout of the Phoenix Suns Friday night.
Chris Wilcox added 14 points and Avery Bradley and Jason Terry added 13 points each for the Celtics, who led by as many as 30 points using a small-ball approach. The win increased the Celtics' lead over eighth-place Milwaukee to two full games in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Goran Dragic had 19 points and 10 assists to lead the Suns, who are now 5-10 under interim coach Lindsay Hunter. The Suns fell to 20 games under .500 for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when they were 29-53, the year before Steve Nash returned to the team.
The lone bright point in a long night for the Suns came with 6:32 left in the game, when newly acquired forward Marcus Morris entered the game and joined twin brother Markieff Morris on the floor to become just the second pair of twins in NBA history to play on the same team. The first twins, former Phoenix Suns Dick and Tom Van Arsdale (1976-77), ironically celebrated their 70th birthdays on Friday.
Markieff Morris had 11 points, while Marcus had seven.
Playing their 12th game without Rajon Rondo -- they are now 9-3 without him -- the Celtics sat Garnett for the first time this season. Coach Doc Rivers said the 18-year veteran didn't protest the decision "which tells you we're probably a game or two too late."
The 36-year-old Garnett had played all 54 games this year and his 1,309 career games is just 20 shy of tying Moses Malone for 10th place on the all-time list.
The game was played before the first sellout crowd of the season, and included many Celtics fans who enjoyed what they saw.
The Suns missed four shots and added three turnovers in the first three-plus minutes while Green scored five points, including a step-back 15-footer to give Boston a 13-0 lead 3:27 into play. Phoenix missed 14 of 22 shots in the quarter but managed to cut the Boston lead to four at 21-17 on a P.J. Tucker turnaround jumper.
Boston quickly boosted the lead to 12 at 35-23 on a Jordan Crawford 3-pointer and took their biggest lead of the half at 53-39 on a Bradley layup with 39.6 seconds left on the half.
NOTES -- Rivers said he probably waited a game or two too long to sit Garnett. He played 47 minutes in a triple-overtime win over Denver on Feb. 10, took part in the All-Star Weekend and looked gassed after back-to-back games at Denver and Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday. "Since that (triple OT game) you can see he's been tired," Rivers said. "After the Denver game, it would be sacrilegious to sit KG against the Lakers but it was a thought. Then watching him play, you're sitting there kicking yourself because that should have been the night." ... With Green stepping in for Garnett "We decided to be the mini-Celtics," Rivers said. ... Rivers said the addition of former Charlotte big man D.J. White, who has ended his season in China, to a 10-day contract is "pretty much a done deal." With Jared Sullinger (lumbar disc surgery) also out, the team is looking to add another big as well.
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