TD BANKNORTH GARDEN -- Suns coach Terry Porter was unhappy with his team's effort tonight against the Celtics. In a game in which the final score was no indication of the drubbing Phoenix endured, the Suns committed 23 turnovers on their way to a 104-87 loss.
“We got a good old spanking tonight," said Porter. "They really came out and turned the intensity on us early and we didn’t respond. We just didn’t."
Before the game, it was the Celtics who were concerned about the physical play of the Suns. Without Kendrick Perkins, Boston was faced with the nightmare scenario of putting Kevin Garnett on Shaquille O'Neal and Brian Scalabrine on Amare Stoudemire. But the Celtics came out and punched the Suns in the mouth, and Stoudemire actually finished with more fouls (4) than points (3)
"They came out and the physicality of the game just threw us off," said Porter. "They knocked us off our spots, and we just didn’t resist. No resistance on our part...This is the worst loss of the year. No doubt."
Garnett gives up a good 75 pounds to O'Neal, but the Suns were never really able to exploit that matchup.
“It always takes five guys," said Porter. "It’s not a one-man sport. One guy can’t be physical, it's got to be everybody as a group. Shaq is a big figure, and can be physical, but from the standpoint of just getting knocked off our spots, that’s perimeter guys not popping out aggressive, catching the ball, getting denied easily, so that’s all those scenarios that was disappointing.”
In addition to physical play, the Celtics used their quickness to frustrate the Suns.
"Between Scal and Kevin they did a really good job," said Paul Pierce. "Kevin started out with Shaq and Scal really just using his quickness to play out angles with Stoudemire. We didn’t want to give him any easy catches in the lane, to where he gets the ball and dunks it underneath."
The crowd was merciless in their ridicule of O'Neal all night, but let the record show that Shaq is an incredibly large, incredibly strong man. Any weight he has added as his career has gone on does not diminish the intimidation he brings to the court.
“Its like holding up a wall," Garnett said of guading Shaq. "Go home, knock out the foundation in your house and just hold up the wall. And when it’s about to fall on you, that’s what it's like holding Shaq."
The Celtics have one player with comparable girth to O'Neal, and they called on him early and often.
“Baby’s makeup is probably more built for the pounding and the force and more compact," Garnett said of teammate Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who played 22 minutes. "With those two it's just like boulder moving boulder. You’re not going to stop Shaq, Shaq’s too big and clever. He’s been in this game a long time...you're just trying to slow him down.”