Tatum, Brown lead Celtics to easy 125-98 win over Suns

Dec 7, 2022, 7:21 AM | Updated: 10:23 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second ha...

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

              Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) reacts in front of the Phoenix Suns bench after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) drives between Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) and guard Chris Paul during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives past Phoenix Suns forward Josh Okogie during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives between Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and center Jock Landale during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul draws the offensive foul on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
            
              Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams drives past Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX (AP) — The hardest task these days for the Boston Celtics might be staying humble.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 25 points, Malcolm Brogdon added 16 off the bench and the rolling Celtics embarrassed the sloppy Phoenix Suns 125-98 on Wednesday night.

“You enjoy the moment, but you’ve got to understand why you did it,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Then you’ve got to know that it’s a long year. This could happen to us. It might not, but we’re going to go through some type of obstacles throughout the year.”

For now, the Celtics are making it look easy.

Boston won for the eighth time in nine games, improving its NBA-best record to 21-5. The Suns — who came into the game with the best record in a crowded Western Conference race — lost for the third time in four games.

Tatum said that after a couple rough trips to Phoenix over the past couple years that ended in losses, there was a particular emphasis on this game.

“We remembered that,” Tatum said. “That was fresh on our minds. We wanted a different outcome.”

The expected showdown between two of the league’s top teams never materialized with the Celtics leading by 45 points. The Celtics took a 31-21 lead after one quarter over the cold-shooting Suns, who missed all eight of their 3-point attempts.

It only got worse for Phoenix.

“We didn’t compete the way we needed to compete tonight,” Suns center Deandre Ayton said.

Boston continued to build its lead in the second, taking a 69-42 lead into the break. Brown led the Celtics with 17 points in the first half, while Tatum had 14. Grant Williams and Brogdon both added 12.

“Phoenix is a great team and I thought the way we played showed the respect we had for them,” Mazzulla said.

The second half was essentially an afterthought. Tatum hit a free throw with 7:01 left in the third to push Boston’s advantage to 40.

Phoenix’s night was summed up in the third quarter when Mikal Bridges, Chris Paul and Devin Booker all tried to grab a loose ball, only to collectively bobble it away into the hands of Boston’s Marcus Smart, who scored an easy layup.

“It feels like that game should count as two losses, but the good thing is it is still only one,” Booker said.

Later, the three-time All-Star added: “You can’t blame scheme, you can’t blame rotation or anything on coach. We have to look at the mirror as a team and we have to fix it.”

The Suns welcomed back Paul, who missed the past 14 games with a sore right heel. That’s good news for the team’s long-term prognosis, but having the 12-time All-Star on the court didn’t help much on Wednesday.

Josh Okogie led the Suns with a career-high 28 points off the bench, while Booker added 17. Paul finished with four points, four rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes.

The Celtics have another big game ahead of them on Saturday, when they travel to face the Warriors. Boston lost to Golden State in six games in the Finals last season.

TIP-INS

Celtics: F Al Horford missed the game after entering the league’s health and safety protocol … Brogdon returned after missing one game because of a non-COVID illness. … Luke Kornet had 12 points on 6 of 6 shooting. Grant Williams also made all six of his shots and finished with 14 points.

Suns: F Torrey Craig (right groin) was back in the starting lineup after missing three games. … Hosted a sellout crowd for the 41st consecutive game. … Shot just 8 of 32 (25%) from 3-point range. … Okogie made 8 of 14 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.

UP NEXT

Celtics: At Golden State on Saturday night.

Suns: At New Orleans on Friday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women's World Cup slal...
Associated Press

US skier Shiffrin leads slalom in pursuit of record 86th win

SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic (AP) — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin had what she called a “perfect run” to lead a women’s World Cup slalom after the opening leg Sunday as she approached the all-time record for the most career wins with 86. If Shiffrin wins the race, she matches Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s best mark […]
1 day ago
Novak Djokovic of Serbia, left, shakes hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece after Djokovic won t...
Associated Press

Djokovic beats Tsitsipas for 10th Australian Open, 22nd Slam

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic was simply too good at the most crucial moments and claimed his 10th Australian Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title overall by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the final at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night. The victory allows Djokovic to return to No. […]
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Troy Stecher, left, taunts Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras after Zebr...
Associated Press

Zegras scores in OT, Ducks beat Coyotes for 3rd win a row

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Trevor Zegras scored at 3:34 of overtime and the Anaheim Ducks beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Saturday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season. John Klingberg stole the puck from Matias Maccelli in the offensive zone and found Zegras in the slot for a wrist shot for […]
1 day ago
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) and Cody Ceci (5) celebrate a goal against the Chicago Blackha...
Associated Press

Oilers head into All-Star break with win over Blackhawks

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Tyson Barrie scored twice, Connor McDavid had his NHL-best 41st goal and the Edmonton Oilers headed into their All-Star break with a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each had a goal and two assists, and Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod also […]
1 day ago
Seattle Kraken center Ryan Donato, rear, watches as the puck rests behind Columbus Blue Jackets goa...
Associated Press

Wennberg scores against former team, Kraken top Blue Jackets

SEATTLE (AP) — Alex Wennberg scored midway through the second period against his former team to help the Seattle Kraken beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night. Wennberg, who was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round in 2013, had his 10th goal of the season in his 600th career game. […]
1 day ago
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers forward Jera...
Associated Press

Achiuwa leads Raptors to 123-105 win over Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in place of the injured OG Anunoby to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 123-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 19 against his former team for the Raptors, […]
1 day ago
Tatum, Brown lead Celtics to easy 125-98 win over Suns