PHOENIX AZ - JANUARY 28: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics puts up a shot over Vince Carter #25 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 28 2011 in Phoenix Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Suns Defeat Celtics With Solid Performance All Around, 88-71

Nice win for the Suns. Showed lots of fight. Literally.

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Video: Channing Frye And Kevin Garnett Mix It Up After Cheap Shot From KG

You hate to read intent into things that happen on the basketball court and calling a play "dirty" or a "cheap shot" is not something you can responsibly do on many occasions. But when Kevin Garnett, for the second time in the game, slid his foot under Channing Frye as he was taking a three-point shot and then added a little love tap to Frye's groin -- well, that's just crossing the line.

"I'm not trying to be hard or a fighter or thug or anything like that. I just try to stick up for myself. The first thing, I didn't really complain too much about. The second thing, you know at some point you just have to stand for yourself," Frye said. 

Frye got plenty of support from his teammates. Someone hung a pair of boxing gloves in Frye's locker while he was in the shower and they certainly had his back during the scuffle. Marcin Gortat and Steve Nash are right in the middle of things as you can see in the video and Vince Carter is there keeping the peace including a fist-bump with Nate Robinson as the groups are separating. 

Frye was in the middle of a fracas last season between the Suns and Pacers when Frye shoved Earl Watson which initiated a similar dust up. Frye downplayed his reputation as a trouble-maker.

"Every year it's always me," Frye joked. "Why is it me all the time? I'm the nicest guy out there. All I want to do is shoot some threes, get a couple of dunks. I just want to play ball."


Of course, Garnett was the victim of some physical play earlier in the quarter as well when Mickael Pietrus tangled with the Celtics big man on a screen. Pietrus shoved Garnett in the neck or face area and was called for a Flagrant One foul. That happened about three minutes prior to the Garnett - Frye incident.

"I heard that Suns are soft and everything like that. That's not going to happen this year. We're not soft. I'm going to make sure when we come out on the floor, we come out hard," Pietrus said about his role on his new team.

Speaking of hard, Grant Hill took an inadvertent shot to the nose on the defensive end that sent him to the floor. As he was recovering, he was faced with Von Wafer coming at him full speed off a turn over. Hill somehow managed to jump up and block Wafer's shot attempt even though he had to leave the game right after for treatment.

Hill said his nose wasn't broken but there was a decent cut on the bridge area.


Phoenix Suns Down Boston Celtics With Exceptional Fight, 88-71

The Phoenix Suns did exactly what they wanted to do against a veteran Boston Celtics team that played a tough game the night before in Portland and didn't arrive in Phoenix until 4 a.m. Pushing the tempo was the key to the game and playing with energy on the defensive end was the other smaller key. The Suns did both and the tired Celtics obliged by getting themselves into foul trouble and playing sloppy offense.

"We were sloppy. I thought the Suns played hard. We didn't play well," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said after the game. He was ejected for arguing with the officials in the first half.

The Suns used all that to build a 30-16 lead after the first period and never really looked back.

Boston was able to go on a run in the third quarter and cut the lead to ten but with a strong scoring performance from Vince Carter, the Suns pushed that back to 17 points to start the fourth.

The game got close again after things got a bit chippy with Mickael Pietrus igniting a Celtics run after a flagrant foul on Kevin Garnett. The Celtics used that insult to cut the lead to nine about halfway through the fourth before KG tapped Channing Frye in the man parts while he was taking a three-point shot. Frye jumped up and the minor scuffle was on.

When the dust cleared, Garnett was called for the foul on Frye and ejected and two other Celtics players received technical fouls. The Suns ended up with six free throws out the mess which effectively ended the game for good.

"I knew it would be a real physical game, but the thing that I thought is that, for the most part, we kept our composure and just tried to concentrate on playing," Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said.

The Suns were led by strong performances from Marcin Gortat (19 points, 17 rebounds) and Vince Carter (17 points). Gortat's 19 points were a career high.


Marcin Gortat Respectfully Calls Kendrick Perkins A Little Dog

Marcin Gortat does a lot of good things for the Phoenix Suns and his effort is being rewarded with more playing time. Compared to Robin Lopez, he's rebounding the ball at a much better rate and defends certain players very well. One other thing that we also love about him is his willingness to talk. He's refreshingly candid in a way that most athletes try and avoid.

At shootaround prior to facing the Boston Celtics, Gortat was asked about his experience playing against his former Eastern Conference foe. After talking in generalities about how physical the Celtics are, he went to a pretty interesting place when it came to center Kendrick Perkins. He literally compared him to a little dog but managed to do it in a way that both made sense and wasn't offensive. At least I didn't think it was offensive.

Here's the full quote:

"(Perkin's) is a really physical guy. He's a guy who will never let it go. I'm going to kind of compare him to a little dog. These little dogs, they will never let go. They're so small, they just keep barking and just keep running around you. You're going to keep throwing the little ball and they're going to keep running and bring it back. He'll grab to your leg and he'll never let go. That's how is Kendrick Perkins. He'll never let go. He'll keep fighting with you, he'll keep pushing you, keep hitting you and at some point you're going to go like, 'damn dude, you don't have enough?'"

At this point, I admit I was thinking to myself, 'oh crap', here we go. Gortat just called Perkins a little dog and it's going to be on like Donkey Kong. But without pausing to reflect at all, Marcin continued his thought...

"But honestly, that's great. That's character and I really respect him for doing that. I always seen this guy battling Dwight (Howard)...I really respect his game and respect him as a player. Even though right now he's my enemy because we play today, I'm happy he's back on the floor. He's a good player and I believe that he deserves to play because of his hard work and his heart."

And with that, the great Perkins - Gortat media generated feud of 2011 was avoided. Phew.

Gortat went on to talk about playing against Shaq and what a thrill that is for him. He gets asked by kids in his basketball camps back home in Poland about Shaq more than anything.

Gortat is looking forward to facing the big guy and said the key to playing against him, as expressed by Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, is that you have to have "balls".

"On time Coach Van Gundy said, 'it doesn't matter what you're going to do. You can play all different defenses against him, different rotations. The only thing that you need is to have balls.' You need to have balls to guard that guy."

The Suns game plan for Shaq and Perkins and now even their big rookie center Semih Erden, is to keep the tempo high according to Gortat and Coach Alvin Gentry. Phoenix knows that they can't get into a slow-down game with the Celtics and expect to win.

Energy and pace will be the keys for the Suns breaking their three-game losing streak tonight.

Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal Both Expected To Play

Grant Hill, who wasn't able to finish the Suns last game on Wednesday due to a knee sprain that was aggravated when a Bobcats player fell into it, will play according to Coach Gentry.

Shaq, who injured his hip when he slipped on the ice and has missed the Celtics last three games, is also expected to play as per a member of the Celtics media (Comcast) who travels with the team.

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