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Gortat scores 24 to lead Suns past Celts 79-71

By Jimmy Golen

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 8:18 p.m. MST

Phoenix Suns' Ronnie Price, center, holds onto the ball between Boston Celtics' Ray Allen, left, and Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.

Michael Dwyer, Associated Press

BOSTON — Marcin Gortat scored 24 points with 12 rebounds and Steve Nash had 11 points and nine assists on Friday night to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 79-71 victory over the Boston Celtics.

The Suns won their second straight after a five-game losing streak.

Playing without point guard Rajon Rondo, the team's most consistent starter this year, the Celtics had their lowest-scoring game of the season. They lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to 0-4 against the Western Conference.

Ray Allen led the Celtics with 14 points and six rebounds.

Former Boston College star Jared Dudley scored 12 points in 19 minutes as a reserve for Phoenix. Grant Hill had nine points and eight rebounds.

Paul Pierce scored 12 points with six assists and Kevin Garnett had 10 points and five rebounds. Avery Bradley scored 10 points with four rebounds and one assist in his first start of the season as a fill-in for Rondo, who missed his first game because of a sore right wrist.

Rondo was injured Wednesday night when he took a hard foul from Toronto's Linas Kleiza while going to the basket. An MRI was negative.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't put a timetable on Rondo's return, though the point guard was hoping to be back for Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards.

It was the seventh consecutive double-double for Gortat. After Mickael Pietrus hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 76-71, Gortat lumbered down the lane and drew a foul from Garnett before sinking two free throws to clinch it.

The Suns led by 11 at halftime. Boston went on a 14-2 run in the middle of the third quarter, taking a 53-50 lead on Pietrus' 3-pointer. With Boston still up by 3, the Suns scored 12 consecutive points to take a 64-55 lead early in the fourth.

Notes: Gortat had 14 points and four rebounds in the first quarter. ... New England Patriots players Deion Branch and Patrick Chung took in the game from courtside. ... Boston C Jermaine O'Neal played in his 900th NBA game. ... With Rondo out, Garnett and Brandon Bass are the only Celtics to have played in every game this season. ... Boston snapped a five-game slide on Wednesday night. ... It was the Suns' first time winning consecutive road games all season. ... Allen had gone three straight games without scoring in double digits.

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