The Red Sox were in the hunt for Eric Gagne earlier in the day, but the Celtics could have used the former Dodgers closer against the Suns Friday night.
In the end, it was too much Steve Nash, too much Shawn Marion, and too much willpower by a veteran Phoenix team that has been there before. This was not their first rodeo, even if much of this game resembled a three-ring circus.
Postgame comments following Boston’s 116-111 loss to Phoenix:
“That’s Celtic basketball tonight,” Rivers said he told his players. “They made a run, you made a run. You got loose balls. You pushed the ball up the floor. You were unselfish. You didn’t care who had the ball. You were setting picks. That’s the way we have to play, even when our bigs come back.”
The Celtics once again held a lead in the fourth quarter but could not close the deal.
“On their own sometimes, they get to this safe mode,” said Rivers. “They have a switch. We get a lead and they click the switch on, ‘Oh, let’s stop.’ They can’t. We just can’t. That’s not how we can win.”
On the losses piling up:
“They are piling up, but I’m not concerned about our team. This is a long season. We have to keep packing away.”
On Paul Pierce:
“He started out great and then he kind of tailed off a little bit. He got good shots. He had some wide-open three’s and they just didn’t fall. He’s a human being. We knew if he didn’t make them it would be tough to win.”
On Sebastian Telfair:
“The only time I got upset at Sebastian the whole game is when they clearly couldn’t guard him with his speed, and then he settled two or three times in a row for jump shots. They decided they would lay off of him and give him an average shot and see if he would take it, and he fell into that trap.”
On Tony Allen:
“Tony is a defensive player. And that’s his role. That’s the role he has to buy into every day. The other stuff he gets is great. If he gets drives, if he gets lay-ups, if he gets post plays, then good. I don’t care if he misses shots. I want him to stop people. And if he does that he’s going to make enough plays for him to stay on the floor. He passed up shots in drove. He was aggressive. We got him on the post.
Overall, Rivers was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was a great effort obviously, and it was a great blueprint on how we should play more often.”
“We kind of stole one tonight,” said Nash. “We were a little tired, a little sloppy, and mentally fatigued. But we stepped up and made the right decisions and plays when it counted and just had a lot of mental toughness that kept us in the game.”
Suns coach Mike D’Antoni echoed the same sentiments.
“You could tell we were just not sharp but we kind of expected it,” he said. “This was not a thing of beauty…I just know with these guys we are going to be alright.”
“I just wanted to come out aggressive from the start,” said Pierce. “I let this team know we weren’t going to back down from them. They like to get out to fast starts.”
Pierce, like Rivers, took more positives than negatives away from a loss to one of the best teams in the league:
“I like the way we played tonight,” said Pierce. “We came out and we battled. We turned them over a lot. I like our effort tonight.”
–The Suns won despite taking 27 fewer shots than the Celtics. The Celtics stayed in the game despite 42 percent shooting. Phoenix shot 60 percent.
–Former Celtic guard Marcus Banks played six minutes and had two points.