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Celtics hand slumping Suns another loss

/ 03:20 PM January 01, 2022
Jaylen Brown #7, Grant Williams #12, and Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics react during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden on December 31, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jaylen Brown #7, Grant Williams #12, and Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics react during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden on December 31, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images/AFP 

Jaylen Brown totaled 24 points and 11 rebounds Friday, and Marcus Smart added 24 points and nine boards to lead the Boston Celtics over the visiting Phoenix Suns, 123-108, in a New Year’s Eve matinee.

Before the game, the Celtics held a moment of silence to honor late Hall of Fame guard Sam Jones, who died Thursday at the age of 88. Jones won 10 championships in his 12 NBA seasons — all with Boston — from 1957 to 1969.

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Josh Richardson scored 19 points, Romeo Langford added 16 and Grant Williams 15 to help the Celtics snap their three-game skid.

Also for Boston, Robert Williams III notched his first career triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and he added five blocks.

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Devin Booker finished with 22 points to lead Phoenix, which has dropped three of its last four games. Cameron Johnson scored 20, Jalen Smith added a career-high 19 points and Chris Paul had 14 points and eight assists for the Suns.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum missed his third straight game while in the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols. Boston’s Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom, Aaron Nesmith and Bruno Fernando were also sidelined in COVID protocol.

Phoenix played without star center Deandre Ayton along with Jae Crowder, JaVale McGee and Abdel Nader in the protocol. Frank Kaminsky remained out with a right knee injury for the Suns.

A back-and-forth first quarter turned in Boston’s favor when Richardson’s 3-pointer put the hosts up for good at 17-16 with 4:28 left. The Celtics ended the opening period on an 18-4 surge to go up 32-20 after one.

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After the Celtics raced to a lead of as many as 30 points in the second quarter, they led 67-41 at halftime.

Phoenix whittled the deficit to 13 at 77-64 after a Mikal Bridges 3-pointer with 6:51 left in the third quarter. The Celtics regrouped to end the period on a 23-13 run to take a 100-77 lead into the fourth.

The Suns made once more push to pull within 11 late but couldn’t get any closer.

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