Tic-tac-toe, three in a row. Unfortunately for the Celtics, it's now three losses in a row.
From the very beginning, the Celtics were thoroughly outplayed, and the loss of KG and Paul Pierce were simply too much to overcome against a good Suns team.
At the end of the day, though, the Celtics were without two of their stars and another -- Rajon Rondo -- might as well have sat out the first half, too. Beyond that, they were missing two key subs, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels. With so many players out, it's a testament to the C's track record with injuries that anybody is even upset by the loss. Really, they should have been expected to lose this one, in Phoenix against a good Suns team.
But they just shouldn't have lost like that, with little effort and even less resistance.
If you want to read some more of my thoughts, here's my running diary of thoughts during the game. Hopefully, they will probably bring you a smile, even if your head -- like mine -- is still hurting from ramming it into the wall after all those Frye jumpers.
- KG's out for tonight, and I'm going to say it now... To say KG's injury is unrelated to last year's surgery is like saying Tiger Woods' car crash was completely unrelated to his "transgressions." Highly unlikely. The Celtics expect us to believe he got kicked in the knee and that's what's causing all the discomfort? Please don't insult our intelligence.
- Tony Allen with a sick behind-the-back in the open court, then right after that leads the break and finds Rasheed Wallace for a breakaway dunk. Allen's resurgence has been more shocking than it would be if Steve Nash went up for a tomahawk dunk.
- Not shocking, though, is that Amare Stoudemire is destroying a KG-less Boston front line. Almost before I could sit down in my couch, he already has 8 points. 12-10, Celtics.
- After a couple Phoenix threes, Boston's defense looks very porous early on. They're flat, and seem to be in a funk just like they were when KG missed a game earlier in the season. It took them an entire half to recover that night, but that was against the Pacers. If the C's play a bad half tonight, without KG and Pierce, they'll get blown out... no matter how well they play in the second half.
- 20-12, Suns. Suns are running and gunning, and on a quick 12-0 run. Nash is firing bullet passes ahead to his teammates, and Amare is killing the Celtics whenever Nash or a three-pointer doesn't.
- My brother: "This could be a loonnggg night." Reason number one I know it's going to be a long night? Amare Stoudemire just took a charge. Since when does Amare Stoudemire exert any energy at all on the defensive side of the floor?
- Reason number two I know it's going to be a long night? Brian Scalabrine was the first man off the bench. Never a good sign.
- Less than ten minutes in, Amare looks like the second coming of... searching for a good basketball comparison... not finding one worthy... screw it, fine, Jesus Christ, with 16 points and 6 rebounds. And no help seems on the horizon; he's now being defended by Scal. (Note: I vaguely remember Scal doing a great job on Amare once upon a time. Sadly, I don't believe a repeat is likely.)
- The first quarter mercilessly comes to a close, but not after Jesus Christ erupted for 18 points and 6 rebounds. Let's just say the Celtics miss Pierce and Garnett.
- I'm surprised Rondo didn't play a better first quarter. He usually kills Steve Nash, but had a non-existent 2 points and 1 dime in the first. Maybe his hammy is a little stiff?
- Stat that makes literally no sense: Celtics had 10 fast break points in the first, Suns only had 4. Huh? Did my eyes deceive me? Weren't the Suns running all over the C's in the first?
- The second quarter starts off even worse than the first. Instead of Amare Stoudemire looking like Jesus Christ, it's now Channing Frye and Louis Amundson getting easy dunks and easy layups. None of which looks good for the guys in Green. 36-21, Suns.
- Louis Amundson gets fouled on an easy layup look, and Donny Marshall is ecstatic because -- for once tonight -- the Celtics defense rotated. When the announcer is that hyped after a single defensive rotation and a foul that results in two shots for the opposing team, it is never, never a good sign.
- Tony Allen strips the ball from Grant Hill (aka pokes him in the eye) and heads off the other way, where he gets fouled by Barbosa. Allen is the lone bright spot tonight. If you think that bodes well for winning this game, think again.
- With the Celtics down 44-32 and not showing any energy whatsoever, is there a better time to throw Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens into the fire? And maybe Lester Hudson? If nothing else, they'll bring some energy into the game.
- Tony Allen flushes home a nice dunk off a Perkins feed. He continues to be the One Shining Player for the Celts. I thought Rondo would play well, but I'm not really sure if he has even stepped foot out of the locker room yet.
- Finally. Another reason to smile, and maybe even a little hope: Eddie House nails two consecutive jumpers, and the Celtics are now down only 9 points.
- Ray Allen spends an entire shot clock dribbling, only to end the possession with an awkward, off-balance, running layup that clanks heavily off the backboard then rim. Not so coincidentally, methinks, Doc calls Rondo to sub in on the next play.
- Tony Allen picks up his fourth steal, then gets called for a bogus charging foul while finishing the layup at the other end. Granted, he should have given the ball up to a wide open Rajon Rondo, but he didn't commit a charge, damn it!
- The bad news: Grant Hill blocks Rondo's half-court heave at the end of the half, and the Suns take a 61-49 lead into half-time. The good news: I finally noticed Rondo was in the game.
- More good news: If the Celtics pick up their defense in the second half, and rebound the basketball, they are in position to come back. The bad news? They haven't shown a single sign of doing that yet.
- I just got a glass of water, except I didn't put any ice in it. Is anyone else in the world so lazy that they'll drink lukewarm water rather than get some ice cubes out of the freezer? (Thinking about Rasheed Wallace sauntering around the court... Thinking about Rasheed Wallace's gut... Thinking about Rasheed Wallace's tendency to settle for three-pointers... Maybe there is someone as lazy as I am, after all.)
- Reason not to trust Gary Tanguay, under any circumstances: He just said the Celtics are doing a good job without KG and Pierce tonight. Huh? Really, Gary? Did you even watch the Celtics get smoked in the first half?
- An early fourth foul for Stoudemire. Donny Marshall says it might be a blessing in disguise for the Celtics. I ask you, what's the disguise? It couldn't be more clear that fourth foul was a blessing if it came stamped "Blessing".
- Perk is starting to take advantage of Stoudemire, who the Suns left in the game despite his fourth foul. Earlier I said Stoudemire wasn't likely to exert any effort defensively, so you can imagine what he's like with four fouls. Straight matador. The C's should go to Perk a whole lot as long as Stoudemire stays in the game.
- When Amare dunks, it's like the rim did something wrong to him. Like it made him very angry and he just wants to hurt it. He does not go to the hoop weakly.
- Perkins gets called for a moving screen. I think it's the millionth moving screen of his career.
- The Celtics temporarily had the deficit back down to nine, but it quickly ballooned to 16. That's what happens when you play negative defense and leave shooters and big men wide open. Channing Frye has now hit three wide open threes; something tells me it might have been in the scouting report that he likes to fire from long range. Just a guess.
- Rasheed shoots an airball from three-point range, an exclamation point in what so far has been an 0-4 night from downtown. If my eyes weren't mistaken, his lower body was still twisting while he pulled the trigger; 'Sheed had no balanace on that one. I don't know if that's been his problem, but I'll keep a closer eye on it.
- The lead is now twenty. I'm contemplating turning the channel and stopping the torture, but I can't; I keep hoping the Celtics will mount a comeback. Me not turning it off is like somebody going through the Chinese Water torture by choice: The water keeps dripping and dripping onto my face, and all I have to do is role over and stop it, but I don't. Somehow, after all this crappiness tonight, I still have a little faith in my Celtics.
- Channing Frye right now is a combination of college J.J. Redick, Hoosiers Jimmy Chitwood, and Bulls Steve Kerr. Of course, it helps he's been wide open all game long, but still.
- 90-73, Phoenix after three. Even the biggest die-hards like myself are close to throwing the white flag.
- Shelden Williams starts the fourth off with an emphatic missed dunk. He sure does seem to miss a whole lot of dunks.
- Shocking stat of the night #2: Jared Dudley is leading the NBA in three-point field goal percentage. Watching him in college, I would have thought I had a better chance of leading the NBA in three-point shooting than Dudley.
- As bad as it's been, the Suns lead is only 15 with ten minutes left. As bad as it's been, I still have hope. Somebody hit me in my head and tell me how stupid I am.
- Oh, well, there goes my hope. A quick Channing Frye jumper makes the lead 17, and then Barbosa goes right by Scalabrine and hits a bucket. Two plays later, Frye hits another three. He's as hot as a conventional oven right now.
- The lead is twenty, and it's just about time for the youngsters to (finally) get their chance. As for me? My hope has been strangled away by a flurry of jumpers from a guy who looks like an over-sized version of Sean Elliott.
- Tell me they don't look alike. Tell me. That's what I thought.
- The rest of the game was pretty normal for two teams just trying to run out the clock. Shelden Williams getting a technical was the only thing out of the ordinary but, really, who cares if Williams gets a technical? Not me.
- The youngsters finally got their chance, but it was only in garbage time. Actually, the whole game might as well have been garbage time.
- Oh yeah, and Shelden Williams missed another dunk.