The perfect birthday present


BOSTON, February 23 – Rajon Rondo celebrated his 23rd birthday with a career-high 32 points to lead reigning National Basketball Association champion Boston past Phoenix 128-108 here Sunday.

CELTICS_PIERCERay Allen added 31 points and Paul Pierce contributed 26 for the Celtics, who produced their highest point total of the season in handing new Suns coach Alvin Gentry his first defeat after three victories since taking the job.

Both teams were without star forwards. Boston’s Kevin Garnett is out for two to three weeks with a right knee injury while Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire is out for the remainder of the season with an eye injury.

The Celtics shot 64 percent from the field, making 46-of-72 shots, with Rondo sinking 13-of-18 from the field.

The Suns, who fired Terry Porter as coach last Monday, were sparked by Jason Richardson’s 21 points plus 17 points and six rebounds from Shaquille O’Neal and 19 points and 11 assists for Steve Nash.

It was the fifth time this season the Suns were thwarted in trying to win a fourth game in a row, a feat they have yet to achieve.