BOSTON - Marcin Gortat's early outburt of 14 first-quarter points charged the Phoenix Suns, who fought off a third-quarter rally from the Boston Celtics to escape with a 79-71 win and hand the C's their sixth loss in seven games on Friday night.
Gortat finished with a game-leading 24 and grabbed 12 rebounds points for Phoenix, which buried 31-of-69 baskets to shoot 44.9 percent. Steve Nash added 11 points and nine assists, Grant Hill scored nine points and had eight rebounds and former Boston College star Jared Dudley scored 12 points off the bench in the win for the Suns.
Ray Allen's 14 points, six rebounds and five assists paced the Celtics, who were held to 40.5 percent shooting. Paul Pierce had 12 points and six assists, Kevin Garnett and Avery Bradley scored 10 points each and Brandon Bass had 11 points and six boards off the bench. Mickael Pietrus, playing against his former team, scored six points for the Celtics.
Gortat took over the first quarter, scoring 10 consecutive points and finishing the period with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting as the Suns took a 20-15 advantage after one. The Celtics held Gortat to two points in the second quarter, but Phoenix still managed to outscore Boston, 26-20, and took a 46-35 lead into the intermission.
Pietrus buried a three, his only points of the night to that point, to give Boston a three-point edge, 53-50, midway through the third quarter, but again, Phoenix didn't fall off and took a 60-55 lead heading into the final quarter. Pierce had four and Jermaine O'Neal totaled four points in the quarter while three players scored four points apiece for the Suns.
Phoenix opened the fourth with four straight points to grab a nine-point lead, 64-55, and held the Celtics to eight points through nine minutes. The Suns controlled the pace in the final three minutes to pick up their sixth win of the year.
Boston is off Saturday and heads to our nation's capital to face the Wizards on Sunday.