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Assertive Kelly Olynyk shows up and leads Celtics to 117-103 win over struggling Suns

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Facing Phoenix for the first time since Isaiah Thomas torched his old team following the deadline trade, Olynyk played like he had some beef of his own with the Suns.

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Suns came in losers of 12 of their last 13 games. Had lost 7 of 8 since Eric Bledsoe went down for the season vs. Philadelphia and were 4-16 on the road. The stage was set for the C's to engage in some target practice against their hapless defense, and it would be Kelly Olynyk surprisingly stepping up to shoot.

Letting both his hair and the shots fly, Olynyk unleashed 21 points and 9 rebounds on 8-16 shooting to go with 19 from Thomas and 17 each from Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.

Two stops led to an opening basket by Amir Johnson (6-9, 13 pts) from Isaiah. A play later he was found again underneath for three-point play. Boston set the pace with four straight stops to begin the game.

Johnson scored six of Boston's first eight. Cutting behind the defense, C's found him again and again. Minutes later Thomas broke an 8-2 Suns run with a mid-ranger. Boston was matching their pace, but their interior defensive breakdowns kept Phoenix in it through the quarter.

The score stood at 12-12 in the first 4:42.

Despite their struggles defensively in the frame, the C's bigs opened 5-5 behind two jumpers from Jared Sullinger as Johnson's movement commanded attention inside.

Bradley hit his first three in his last 18 attempts, followed by Crowder, and then Thomas buried his own as three outside shots in a row shot Boston up to 24-17 lead.

C's then broke into small ball featuring Isaiah, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, Crowder, and Johnson; setting off a 5-2 run to go up 31-23 before quickly moving away from it.

Johnson's activity and confidence around the rim set an active tone for Boston, who led 36-29 after one.

The second opened with three Suns turnovers, including a running steal from Smart. Celtics fired off four straight, despite two turnovers of their own, as Phoenix began to look more disengaged defensively by the possession.

With a solid lead in hand, Boston moved nine deep into their rotation and injected Jonas Jerebko and Olynyk into the mix. The latter started slow, but by the end of the quarter the rim was looking ten feet wide for him.

Jerebko was part of two turnovers and a brutal missed three early on but Olynyk was showing aggressiveness with a lay-up to push Boston ahead 45-38. Starting 1-3 without the man bun (which had been his key to success, according to these hard-hitting analytics), the odds looked stacked against him.

T.J. Warren and Sonny Weems led a 5-0 Phoenix run that pulled them within four. But two missed free throws by Warren off a turnover halted the momentum into a brick wall.

Then, Kelly happened.

Recording his third steal, protecting a fast break basket from going down, and then hitting a three on the other end to put Boston up 55-45. Olynyk took another Phoenix miss in transition, pushed the Boston run to 12-3 with another three, then two offensive possessions later hit his third in a row before coming back in transition and laying in his 11th straight point as the crowd went into hysterics.

All of that was in the span of 2:00 and Celtics were suddenly up by 17 as Kelly threw an arm into the air towards the crowd, hair defiantly floating against the analytical odds.

After another stop Olynyk, with fire in his eyes, poured in a reverse lay-up for his 13th straight before a Sullinger three put Boston up 21. They finished the quarter on a 16-2 run in the final four minutes and led 68-47.

Boston would carry the fire into the third with their starting lineup, opening up 8-4 behind a Thomas three-pointer in response to Devon Booker's jumper. As Sullinger drained two free throws to make it 78-54, all five Celtics starters were in double figures.

Mirza Teletovic inspired a Suns spark midway through the frame, leading a 14-4 run for Phoenix with three outside shots falling in a matter of two minutes. With 4:45 to go he converted three free throws and Boston watched its lead dip to a meager 17.

Boston started the quarter 4-15 while finding seven of their first 16 from the free throw line.

They'd find their swing again late in the quarter, going on an 8-2 run that push their lead back to 21 behind five straight from Thomas. With 1:30 to go in the quarter, the Celtics had already reached 94 points.

At the end of three, despite sending Phoenix to the line for 17 free throws, the Celtics held up a commanding 96-78 lead.

In the fourth Bradley and Smart reunited in the back-court, as they both responded to Phoenix buckets and the latter recorded his second steal. But the Suns pressed harder, coming back with a Booker lay-up and Weems three before Stevens shut it down with a timeout, seeing Boston's once 25 point lead dwindle down to 13.

Out of the timeout Boston found back to back threes from Smart and Olynyk that re-established their command on the game. Jerebko threw two more on top of that and C's tore the Suns up on a 14-6 run down the stretch, filled with blocks and movement from an aggressive Olynyk.

Smart grabbed a rebound with 2 minutes to go as Boston led 117-101 to solidify the first triple-double of his career. Up 14, he held the ball for a 24 second violation to seal the deal and the Celtics walked off into their road trip with a two game win streak.

Next for 21-19 Boston, another three-game trip, starting tomorrow in Washington before heading to Dallas and Toronto.