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01/09/2013 11:37 PM EST
Celtics rally for 87-79 win over Suns
BOSTON 87, PHOENIX 79

By DOUG ALDEN
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- The "Big Three" leading Boston to its latest win
was an unlikely bunch.



Jeff Green, Jason Terry and rookie Jared Sullinger carried the
Celtics through a game of streaks, each outscoring their
starting teammates as Boston recovered from a dreadful third
quarter and held off the slumping Phoenix Suns 87-79 on
Wednesday night.



Green had 14 points, Terry scored 13 and Sullinger finished with
12 points and pulled down a career-best 16 rebounds as Boston's
reserves outscored their Phoenix counterparts 47-16.



"They won the game for us basically. The bench played well. The
starters didn't play good at all tonight," said Rajon Rondo, who
had eight points and eight assists.



It was an emotional game for Green, who was playing exactly one
year after having surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.



"I can't put it into words. I mean, it's a wonderful day," said
Green, who missed all of last season with the heart condition.
"I reflect a lot on what I've been through and it's just a
blessing and I'm glad I'm here."



Kevin Garnett was the only Boston starter to score in double
figures, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds, and Paul
Pierce had seven points and seven rebounds.



The Celtics survived a scoring drought that spanned almost half
the third quarter. Boston scored just 14 in the period before
rallying in the fourth against the road-weary Suns, who lost
their 11th straight away from home.



"I think it would be a little bit easier to swallow if it would
have been Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. At the end of the day it
was their bench that really hurt us the most," Phoenix coach
Alvin Gentry said.



The Celtics (18-17) have won four straight and are back above
.500 for the first time since improving to 14-13 with a win at
Brooklyn on Christmas.



Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Jared Dudley
scored 14 while pulling down 10 boards for the Suns, who lost
their fourth straight and fell to 2-16 on the road. Luis Scola
scored 16 and Goran Dragic finished with 10 points for Phoenix,
which gave the Celtics a scare in the third quarter with a 17-0
run.



The Suns were coming off a 108-99 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday,
when they were outscored 58-43 in the second half. The outlook
wasn't good after the first half Wednesday with Boston leading
53-41, but the Suns responded with a torrid run early in the
third quarter, shutting out Boston for 5:59. Dudley hit a
3-pointer and Gortat scored six during the spurt, putting back
an offensive rebound that gave Phoenix a 56-55 lead with 6:59
left in the period.



Boston fans went silent at first as the big lead dwindled, then
started booing as the Celtics continued to struggle. Rajon Rondo
finally snapped the scoreless skid on a jumper with 5:42 left in
the period, cutting Phoenix's lead to 58-57. The Celtics hadn't
scored since Garnett's jumper 19 seconds into the third.



Boston regained enough composure to lead 67-64 after three then
quickly took command by opening the final quarter with an 11-2
run. Terry started it with a 3-pointer and Garnett added four
points before setting up Green for an alley-oop dunk to put
Boston up 78-66 with 7:45 remaining.



"We always have lapses. Sometimes it happens early, sometimes it
happens later," Scola said. "Even in the games we've won, we
play this way."



Notes: Rondo returned from a one-game suspension for making
contact with a referee and failure to cooperate with a league
investigation. He finished with eight points and eight assists.
... Boston coach Doc Rivers was called for a technical late in
the third period, then Rondo and Phoenix's P.J. Tucker drew dual
technicals early in the fourth. ... The Celtics opened the game
4 for 11 from the floor and trailed 24-23 at the end of the
first quarter, then shot 57 percent in the second quarter while
outscoring Phoenix 30-17 in the period. ... The Suns committed
seven turnovers in the second quarter ... Sullinger's previous
high for rebounds was 11 against Toronto on Nov 17.

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