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Kevin Garnett scored 30 points, sinking the final two to an "M-V-P!" chant echoing through the new Boston Garden, and Paul Pierce had 12 of his 27 in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to a 117-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
Kendrick Perkins had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Ray Allen had 14 points and eight assists for Boston, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Rajon Rondo scored 14 with six rebounds and six assists while frustrating Shaquille O'Neal into a technical foul as Boston turned a tie game into a double-digit lead in the third.
Amare Stoudemire scored 32 and O'Neal had 16 with seven rebounds for the Suns, who have lost two straight since a seven-game winning streak put them in position to challenge the Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Celtics beat Phoenix for the first time in six tries and just the third time since 2001, improving to 24-5 this season against the otherwise superior Western Conference. Garnett, who also had six assists, was the main reason why.
Garnett was 12-for-19 from the field, showing his repertoire of baby hooks and short-range fallaways. He was also 6-for-6 from the line, sinking a pair of free throws with six minutes left as the crowd chanted for him to claim his second NBA MVP Award.
The Celtics padded the lead at the end of the third quarter with a flurry of good defense. After Allen set up Garnett for a 20-footer from the left side, Eddie House stole the half-court inbound pass and fired up a desperation 3 at the buzzer that rolled around the rim and went out.
The Celtics took a 15-point lead in the first quarter, then gave up 10 straight points and it was tied at 57 at the half. It was 65-65 when the Celtics scored six straight points, and 15 of the next 19, including a four-point play by James Posey after Stoudemire knocked him down after sinking a 3-pointer.
After Rondo drove for a layup to make it a 10-point game, the pesky point guard frustrated O'Neal and prodded him into an elbow that drew a technical foul. Allen sank the free throw with 1:24 left in the third to make it 80-69.
This program aired on March 27, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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