THE NITTY GRITTY
Markieff Morris scored a team-high 18 points off the Phoenix bench, while P.J. Tucker added a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) as the Suns fended off a second-half charge from the Celtics. Rajon Rondo missed 15 of the 22 shots he took, but was aggressive for much of the night and his shooting nearly helped Boston rally back in the final quarter. Rondo finished with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds over 35:33, while Brandon Bass added 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds and two blocks. Jeff Green added 17 points, while Jared Sullinger had 11 points and eight rebounds.
After erasing an 11-point second-quarter deficit, the Celtics opened as much as a 10-point lead of their own in the third quarter while riding the hot hand of Bass. The Suns closed out the quarter on a 12-0 run, however, with Boston going scoreless over the final 2:42 (and field goal-less over the last 4:55). The Celtics' woes lingered into the fourth quarter and the Suns pushed their own lead to 10 before Sullinger ended an eight-minute field-goal drought with a dunk. Boston managed to make it a one-possession game late, but Phoenix answered each time the Celtics got close. Boston had a final gasp down 3 with under 30 seconds to go, but both Rondo and Sullinger missed attempts near the basket.
The Celtics limited their turnovers, giving the ball away 14 times for only nine points (all while the Suns committed 18 turnovers leading to 25 points). ... Phoenix shot 43.9 percent overall, while Boston finished at 39.1 percent. ... Joel Anthony was a healthy DNP for Boston. ... Avery Bradley (ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee) are not with the team on this West Coast trip.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (19-36) have lost back-to-back games after winning four of five to start the month. Boston will take Thursday off while enduring the NBA trade deadline in Los Angeles before a tilt with the rival Lakers on Friday night at the Staples Center. Stops in Sacramento (Saturday) and Utah (Monday) follow to wrap up this four-game post-All-Star trip.