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Garnett, Celtics have the hot hand

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / March 3, 2011

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Suns coach Alvin Gentry was not sure if he was a motivating factor for Kevin Garnett last night. If he was, though, Gentry has a suggestion for Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

“I’m sure if it is, then Doc hopes [Garnett] gets [ticked] off at every coach in the league,’’ Gentry said after the Celtics’ 115-103 victory.

Garnett had been ejected after being charged with two technical fouls after a clash with the Suns’ Channing Frye in Phoenix’s 88-71 win Jan. 28. After the game, Gentry criticized Garnett. And Garnett apparently recalled Gentry’s criticism, as he went for 28 points last night. Or maybe Garnett had other incentives?

“I don’t see anything — I think we’re making a big deal out of nothing,’’ Gentry said. “In the grand scheme of things, you know, it’s one game that we played.

“[Garnett] played great [last night], you’ve got to give him credit, he was great offensively, and defensively. He got everything going to the basket, made some jump shots, so he’s tough to guard in those situations.’’

Asked if Garnett, who was hit with a technical with 16.2 seconds left, had directed his comments toward Gentry, the Suns coach said, “I have no idea. You have to ask him that. We had enough problems on our side of the bench, we weren’t worried about their side. You have to talk to him about what was said, or who his personal remarks was directed toward, I don’t know.’’

Gentry was diplomatic, partly because the Suns had been humbled through most of the first three quarters, partly because his team had experienced some self-destructing – instead of absorbing blows from the Celtics, Frye and Vince Carter crashed into each other on an in-bounds play out of a timeout.

“That’s how it is with this team,’’ Suns center Marcin Gortat said of the Celtics. “I don’t think we have so many bad guys on the team, so many aggressive guys who are just going to step out and try to fight someone. If that’s what’s going to happen — if we have to we will.

“It was more Boston than us. They are a crafty team, that’s what makes them actually so good — crafty, really physical. That’s how you are going to make it to the Finals. That’s one of the reasons why they were there, because they were physical and they were fighting.’’

And provoking. The Celtics accused the Suns of verbally baiting them. Then, Rajon Rondo fired up a 3-pointer with less than a second on the clock.

“It’s OK, you play to win the game,’’ Gentry said. “You’re supposed to play for 48 minutes, that’s no big deal. He wanted to shoot, he shot it. I don’t see anything wrong with that. You’re supposed to play to 48 minutes; there was two seconds to go or whatever it was, you play the whole 48 minutes. I don’t have a problem with that, I really don’t.’’

Rondo’s shot was the least of the Suns’ concerns, according to Gortat.

“It’s hard to say, it’s a tough decision,’’ Gortat said. “Rondo decided to shoot the ball, I’m just saying I don’t shoot it. It’s his decision. It didn’t change anything, we lost the game. If he feels he has to shoot the ball to make a couple extra points, I don’t care.’’

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