By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON No one is ever going to mistake what exists between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns as a rivalry.
But one thing is very clear: These are two teams that don't like each other.
We saw that disdain on display in Boston's 115-103 win over the Suns on Wednesday night.
Even though the Celtics (44-15) dominated play most of the night, that didn't stop things from getting a bit chippy.
Usually it's the players you worry about with that stuff.
But on Wednesday, Boston's Kevin Garnett got into a spat spectacle with the Phoenix coaches.
"If you got a suit and tie on and actually can't play, I don't think you should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor," said Boston coach Doc Rivers
Garnett, who was whistled for a technical foul, delivered a postgame verbal jab at the Suns, who are currently ninth in the Western Conference standings.
When asked about his exchange with Suns coach Alvin Gentry, Garnett replied, "Alvin Gentry was asking me for tickets to the first round of the playoffs. I told him I'd hook him up, so that's what that was."
Garnett is in his 15th NBA season, and seen and done just about everything you can imagine on the floor.
But even he was a bit surprised by having a war of words with the opposing team's head coach.
"It's very uncommon," Garnett acknowledged. "But they're an uncommon team."
The fact that there was so much talking did not come as surprise to players like Rajon Rondo.
"We knew, coming in, to expect a little trash talk," Rondo said. "They beat us last time."
And in that loss, Garnett was ejected after picking up two technical fouls.
Also in that game, Garnett connected with a below-the-waist blow to Channing Frye, which prompted some harsh criticism from Gentry after the game.
Gentry said a number of things about Garnett, which included him losing some respect for Garnett because of Frye incident.
"I don't regret anything I say," Gentry said. "I've never had any regret from anything I say. The guy is a great player. He's going to be a Hall of Fame guy. Like I said, at that moment, everybody is a competitor. In the heat of the moment, I'm going to protect my guy and Doc Rivers is going to protect his."
But there was no shielding his Suns from the Garnett onslaught that awaited them.
Garnett had a season-high 28 points along with 11 rebounds, delivering the kind of emphatic domination that spoke volumes about how badly the C's wanted this one.
Making the dominant performance even more unexpected was it came in the first game back from a long road trip, the kind of game that usually trips up a team.
But the C's had the kind of focus that can make them a difficult team to beat, let alone compete with.
The Suns fell short on both of those fronts, as they fell behind by as many as 29 points before rallying to make the game relatively competitive.
However, Phoenix never really got close enough where the concern level takes a major spike.
"It was an intense game, but it wasn't," said Rondo. "We had a pretty good lead the entire game. They made a run at it, but the game . . . we had it in control the whole game."
And in a weird kind of way, Boston can thank the Suns to some degree for the victory.
All that in-game chatter seemed to fire up the C's.
"We were definitely alert," Rivers said. "You could see it in shoot-around. You know, it's rare that I say, 'Well, we're going to play well' before a game. Half the time when I say it, I'm wrong. So I was right today."