NBA News Wire

Suns shake of fatigue to burn Celtics

PHOENIX — It took a half for the Phoenix Suns to shake off some fatigue and turnover problems Wednesday. Overcoming the pesky Boston Celtics took a lot longer.

Guards Goran Dragic and Gerald Green each scored 17 points, and forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris combined for 29 points off the bench as the Suns gutted out a win for the second straight night, outlasting the Celtics 100-94.

Suns forward P.J. Tucker had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and he tied a career high with six assists, the last one setting up Markieff Morris for a dunk with 36.2 seconds left to give his team a 97-92 lead. It was one of only two field goals the Suns (32-21) had in the final 6:27 of the games, but it was enough to produce their eighth win in the last 11 games.

Markieff Morris scored a team-high 18 points Tucker added three steals before fouling out with 30.7 seconds left.

“Shhh … we don’t want anyone to go after him when he’s a free agent,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said of Tucker, who will be unrestricted this summer. “P.J. is a workhorse. He plays hard and brings the intensity all the time. He’s got a knack for the ball and when he’s determined to get it he goes and gets it. He’s been invaluable.”

Phoenix needed overtime to pull out a win against the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday. They came home to meet the well-rested Celtics (19-36), who were playing their first game after the All-Star break and had been in Arizona since Monday.

The Suns committed 18 turnovers, but only four after halftime and none in the fourth quarter.

Forward Channing Frye had 10 of his 15 points in the second half, including a big 3-pointer with 1:21 left that gave the Suns a 95-86 lead.

“We are figuring out different ways to win,” Frye said. “(Tuesday) we got a win off our defense and tonight was kind of the same thing. Every game is going to be tough. Guys are playing for their playoff lives, for their positions and just in general.”

Phoenix got 38 points from their bench, 17 more than Boston.

“I played (42) minutes last night and Gerald and Channing and the rest of the first unit played a lot,” Dragic said. “We needed everybody and the bench did an amazing job. I think because of the bench we won the game.”

Guard Rajon Rondo had 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for Boston, who kept fighting back. The Celtics had the ball down 97-94 with 26 seconds left. Rondo lost the handle on a shot that missed the rim, and Boston center Jared Sullinger barely grazed the rim with a second effort before the Suns grabbed the rebound and closed out the game.

Forward Brandon Bass had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics, who dropped to 4-19 against the Western Conference this season.

“We just lost momentum,” said Rondo, who has three double-doubles in his first 11 games this season. “They killed us in fastbreak points. They’re the top team in fastbreak points and they showed it tonight. Dragic gets the ball out quick, Green is playing unbelievable right now and Tucker is keeping balls alive.

The Celtics trailed 52-50 at the half but opened the third quarter with a 16-4 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 66-56. But over the next 8:30, the Suns outscored Boston 25-5 including eight straight points from Marcus Morris. He ended the third quarter with a 32-foot pull-up three pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer and scored five straight to give the Suns an 81-71 lead.

The Celtics cut the lead back to two at 88-86 on center/forward Kelly Olynyk’s 3-pointer with 3:59 left, but the Suns squeezed out just enough offense to win.

“The third quarter was our best start coming out,” Bass said. “At the end of the quarter, they made their run and kind of did what they do best.”

NOTES: Green, drafted 18th overall by the Celtics in 2005, came into the game averaging 29.0 points in his past three games. That included a career-high 36 in a 112-107 overtime win at Denver on Wednesday. It was the highest-scoring game by a Suns player since Jared Dudley had 36 against the Knicks on Dec. 26, 2012. … Green scored his 36 points Wednesday in 29:45 of playing time, the first Sun to score at least 36 points in 30 minutes or less since Tom Chambers had 36 against the Miami on March 16, 1990. … The Celtics swept the season series last year. … Dragic is averaging 5.4 fast-break points per game this season. Only G James Harden (6.3) of Houston, F LeBron James (6.2) of Miami, G Russell Westbrook (5.9) and F Kevin Durant (5.6) of Oklahoma City average more.