Talking Points: Suns 79, Celtics 71

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Talking Points: Suns 79, Celtics 71

BOSTON There will come a time when Rajon Rondo will roam the sidelines, donning a well tailored suit as a head coach somewhere.

Now is not the time, not with the Celtics trying to fight back from a horrendous stretch of futility to start the lockout-shortened season.

But there he was, out for the night because of a sore wrist.

Rondo's replacement, Avery Bradley (10 points, four rebounds), did an admirable job filling in for him in the starting lineup.

It wasn't enough, as the Phoenix Suns (6-9) handed the Celtics a 79-71 loss.

Make a strong push. Give it away in the final minutes of the quarter.

For a Celtics team with such inconsistency to its play, this has been a relative constant with them most of the season.

Trailing 46-35 at the half, Boston (5-9) opened the third with an 18-4 run to take the lead following a 3-pointer by Mickael Pietrus - a member of the C's only because the Suns waived him in December.

But like so many runs by the C's this year, a weak finish wiped out a lot of their good play in the quarter.

Boston led 55-52, but the Suns closed out the third with an 8-0 run to regain the lead and just as important, control of the game.

it was a similar script in the fourth, as Boston cut the Suns lead down to five points but failed to make the necessary plays - again - to get a win.

The need for a second half surge was because, once again, the C's fell behind early.

But the early deficit had little to do with two-time league MVP Steve Nash, Grant Hill or the usual suspects.

It was Marcin Gortat doing what he does better than anyone in the NBA this season - make shots.

He came into the game shooting an NBA-best 60.4 percent from the field.

In the first half, he had a stretch in which he scored 12 straight, and tallied 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting by the half. He finished with a game-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds which was also tops among all players.

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

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“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”