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The Redhead Fills It Up

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Without a doubt, a newly sleeved point guard was the story of yesterday's Celtics win in Phoenix.  As Jeff covered in his recap, Rajon Rondo celebrated his 23rd birthday in style, dominating the Suns with a career high 32 points to go with his 10 assists and six rebounds in the 128-108 victory.  In the few minutes when Raj wasn't gliding past Steve Nash for scoop lay-ups or even knocking down a few jumpers, it was also a pleasure to witness a season-high scoring effort for a certain redheaded fellow.

I've been pleasantly surprised by much of what Brian Scalabrine has brought to this team when on the floor this season.  His defensive rotations and man-to-man performances on the perimeter (two areas where I thought him over-credited a season ago) look improved.  He plays smart basketball, occasionally manages to avoid foul trouble and has not been a black hole at the offensive end this season.  He is hitting threes at a decent clip (38.2 percent) and his 54.1 percent true shooting is an important improvement over last year's abominable 42.8, though both of those figures come over sample sizes that aren't exactly gigantic.

But while Scal has stepped in as a capable reserve and spot starter at times throughout this season, it still isn't often that he comes up with a significant scoring effort.  Yesterday featured one such performance.

Scal broke into double-figures for the third time this season and tied the third-highest scoring total of his Celtics career with his 14 points on Sunday.  In doing so, he showed off a more varied array of offensive talents than Celts fans are accustomed to seeing.

The first bucket came courtesy of some good off-the-ball movement on Scal's part combined with the Suns' characteristic lack of attention to detail on defense.  The redhead drifted beneath the Suns' interior defenders to just below the right block on the baseline, waited for Rajon Rondo to find him with a bounce pass, caught, turned and dunked.

The right corner three that came later in the half as the Celtics were starting to open the game up was less of a surprise from Scal.  In the interim between the dunk and the three, however, he gave us one of the lastingly scarring images of the season.  With the Suns trapping as the Celtics brought the ball up the floor, Scal caught the ball just in front of halfcourt, saw that his passing options to the wings were limited and decided to, uh, take care of the press himself.  There's a reason he isn't known for his ball-handling.  The forward barreled into the paint, careened into an unsuspecting Louis Amundson and managed to earn his way to the foul line via blocking foul.  Two splashes ensued.

In the second half, Scal made sure he played a role in the track meet part of the game that every Suns contest becomes at some point.  As he saw Rajon Rondo secure the carom off a Steve Nash miss, he released down the floor, once again getting behind the entirety of the Suns' defense.  Rondo hit him with a length-of-the-floor feed for a lay-in.  Beautiful break.

Another three and a pull-up jumper (off the dribble!) that rattled in followed.  When it was all said and done, Scal had gone 5-for-8 from the field to score his 14 points, making him the fourth of five Celtics to figure in double-figures as the team reached its highest scoring output of the season. 

Without a doubt, the extra possessions accrued by playing such an uptempo game and the fact that the Suns don't guard anybody helped inflate his work.  By no means will this necessarily become a trend.  But that didn't make it any less enjoyable to see the always-scrapping Brian Scalabrine bust out for a nice scoring effort in an impressive victory in Kevin Garnett's absence.

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