League-leading Boston Celtics rock Phoenix Suns in Chris Paul's return from injury

This wasn’t Game 7, but it sure felt like it.

The Boston Celtics outplayed, outworked and absolutely destroyed the Phoenix Suns, 125-98 Wednesday night at the same Footprint Center in which Dallas drummed them by 33 points to abruptly end their historic season last May.

In what was supposed to be a battle between the top teams in the Eastern and Western Conference, the Celtics (21-5) were clearly the superior team in evaporating the Suns (16-9), who are 1-3 in their last four games.

Jayson Tatum looked like the league’s best player with 25 points while Devin Booker turned in a second subpar performance filled with fouls and misfires from 3 going, 1-of-6.

Jaylen Brown got whatever he wanted with 25 points while Deandre Ayton kept giving it away with four turnovers.

All this on the night Chris Paul returned after missing 14 consecutive games with a sore right heel. He finished with the same number of turnovers (four) and points (four).

Dec 7, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Celtics forward 	Jayson Tatum (0) drives past Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic
Dec 7, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives past Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

It got so bad, Williams pulled all five starters with 4:57 left in the third and his team down 43 points, 95-52, and didn’t put them back in the game.

That included Torrey Craig, who made his return after missing three games with a right groin strain.

The Suns were coming off a 130-111 flop at Dallas that saw Luka Doncic go for 33 points and the Mavericks splash 20-of-41 from 3.

Returning home, Phoenix was looking to show out before a national television audience and a sellout crowd of 17,071.

The Suns instead got embarrassed for a second straight game and had to hear Celtics fans cheering louder and louder as the game progressed.

Phoenix trailed by as many as 45 points.

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Late in the game, the Celtics fan rose to their feet as Brown was urging them to cheer.

Booker finished with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting while Josh Okogie scored a career-high 28 off the bench.

It doesn’t get any easier for Phoenix. The Suns begin a four-game road trip Friday at New Orleans, which jumped ahead of Phoenix by half a game with their own win Wednesday night. They play them twice in three days before facing Houston, which just beat them last week, and end the trip against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Celtics dominate Suns in battle of NBA conference leaders