NBA: Kemba Walker leads Celtics to win over Suns

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 23 2021 12:04 PM

NBA: Kemba Walker leads Celtics to win over Suns 1
Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) drives to the basket between Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) and forward Cameron Johnson (23) during the first half at TD Garden. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Kemba Walker matched his season-high with 32 points to lead the banged-up Boston Celtics past the visiting Phoenix Suns 99-86 Thursday night.

Walker shot 11 of 17 from the field for the Celtics (32-27), who won for the ninth time in their last 11 games. Jayson Tatum had 15 points and 11 rebounds on 3-for-17 shooting as he continues to nurse a left ankle injury.

Boston played without Jaylen Brown (shoulder), Evan Fournier (health and safety) and Robert Williams III (knee).

Chris Paul had 22 points with eight rebounds and eight assists to lead the Suns (42-17), who lost for just the third time in their last 16 games. Devin Booker had 15 points before fouling out.

Phoenix shot just 6 of 35 (17.1 percent) from 3-point range and was held to the team's second-lowest scoring total on the tail end of a back-to-back.

The Celtics grabbed their largest lead of the game, 66-45, on a Tatum pull-up jumper with 7:13 left in the third quarter. A 10-2 Suns run prompted a Boston timeout, after which Mikal Bridges and Paul made short buckets to cut Phoenix's deficit to single digits, 68-59.

Boston ended the period up 77-65.

Payton Pritchard hit two well-timed 3-pointers to keep the Suns at bay, and a triple from Walker upped Boston's advantage to 90-76 with 4:56 to go. After Booker fouled out at 4:37, Paul nailed a trey and Deandre Ayton put one in to get Phoenix within 90-81. The Suns got no closer down the stretch.

The first half was one of extended runs, the Celtics using a 12-1 stretch to grab the game's first double-digit lead at 21-11. The Suns responded with 10 unanswered to knot the score before Boston ripped off a 14-0 spurt that extended into the second quarter.

Phoenix once again answered with an 8-0 run and would get within 37-33 with 5:26 remaining. But Boston ended the half with a 16-4 burst for a 53-37 advantage at the break.

--Field Level Media