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Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 32 points to go with 10 assists on his 23rd birthday and the Boston Celtics didn't need Kevin Garnett to beat the Phoenix Suns 128-108 on Sunday.
Ray Allen scored 31 and Paul Pierce 26 in Boston's first game since Garnett went down with a strained muscle in his right knee that is expected to sidelined him for at least two weeks.
The Suns have bigger problems, losing leading scorer and rebounder Amare Stoudemire following eye surgery on Friday. He won't be able to resume physical activity for about eight weeks.
The Celtics blistered Phoenix with 63 percent shooting. Rondo made 13-of-18 and Allen 10-of-15. After going 1-for-8 in the first half, Pierce was 7-for-9 in the second. He was 10-for-10 at the foul line.
Jason Richardson scored 21 for the Suns in their first loss in four games under new coach Alvin Gentry. Steve Nash added 19 points and 11 assists. Leandro Barbosa scored 18 and Shaquille O'Neal 17 for Phoenix.
It was an end to a tumultuous week for the Suns that began with the firing of coach Terry Porter. His replacement Gentry returned the team to its old ultra-fast style, and the Suns went on to win three straight under the new coach.
But those were against the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The defending NBA champions from Boston, Garnett or no Garnett, were another matter, especially with Rondo at his best.
The Celtics improved to 10-0 when Rondo scored at least 18 points, and he had that before halftime.
Rondo scored 22 to help Boston build a 68-54 lead at the break. The Celtics led by as many as 21 in the third quarter. Phoenix cut it to nine twice, then faded at the finish.
Boston is 3-1 on a western road trip that still has stops at Denver and against the Clippers.
The Celtics went up 80-59 on Brian Scalabrini's layup with 8:42 left in the third quarter
Phoenix, though, scored the next eight and O'Neal's dunk cut it to 80-67 with 6:50 to play in the quarter. The Suns sliced it to 12 four times before Matt Barnes' 3-pointer made it 92-83 with 1:50 left. Rondo and Allen scored the final four points of the period, though, and Boston led 96-83 entering the fourth.
The Suns cut it to single digits once more when Richardson's 3-pointer made it 96-87 with 11:02 to play. Allen followed with a 3-pointer to ignite a 15-3 spurt that made it 111-90 on Eddie House's 3-pointer with 71/2 to play.
This program aired on February 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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