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Kemba Walker leads Boston Celtics to win over Phoenix Suns

Apr 22, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) controls the ball while Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) controls the ball while Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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 nurses 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 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 6 of 35 (17.1 percent) from 3-point range and was held to a season low in scoring 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 three 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