PHOENIX — The result seemed miraculous, but it was no mirage.
The Celtics gave Kevin Garnett the night off, plugged in a couple of green newcomers, and then rolled to their biggest win of the season here Friday.
In a roller-coaster Celtics season in which the story lines border on ridiculous, the team’s 113-88 wire-to-wire crushing of the Suns is another that’ll be hard to top.
Garnett missed his first game of the season to rest, giving Jeff Green a chance to start — and Green didn’t waste it.
The forward scored a season-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting.
“I just tried to make a statement early,” Green said, “and that’s what I did.”
Which is putting it lightly.
Green scored a quick 7 points as the Celtics rolled to a 15-2 lead out of the gate. Phoenix had barely broken a sweat by the time it rolled over.
“They had no respect for us,” Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said.
“I mean, that is almost embarrassing. One of their Hall of Fame players didn’t play and they still come in here and smack you around like a punching bag, and you are at home and there is no resistance.”
To the Suns’ credit, they cut the Celtics’ lead to single digits in the second half . . . and that was before the Celtics pushed that lead to 30 points in the fourth quarter.
The Suns lost for the eighth time in 10 games, while the Celtics were able to cleanse their palate of two consecutive losses with a win that had their entire locker room in spirits as high as the sky.
“It was a good win, a feel-good win,” coach Doc Rivers said.
Ten players scored for the Celtics, with five in double figures, and they received impressive contributions from newbies Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford.
At 6 feet 6 inches, Williams, who the Celtics signed to a 10-day contract Monday, actually played point guard for stretches and made several dazzling, highlight-reel passes that led to easy baskets. He scored 9 points and tied for a team high with 4 assists.
Meanwhile, Crawford made his Celtics debut after arriving in town at 2 a.m. after a flight from Washington, where he played before the Celtics traded for him.
Though his grasp of the offense and defense were limited at best, Crawford scored 10 points and had several acrobatic layups in traffic.
“You could see what Crawford could do,” Rivers said. “He has a terrific feel.”
Crawford said he was “nervous, nervous more than anything” about his debut.
But with a grin, he added, “It was fun.”
Plus, as an added bonus, up-and-down big man Chris Wilcox showed flashes of domination in the low post a few hours after receiving a talking to from Rivers.
“He told me what he needed from me,” said Wilcox, who had 14 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. “I just came out and tried to play hard and tried to do what he asked me to do and bring energy. I’m an energy guy so that’s what I had to do.”
With only two true centers — Wilcox and Fab Melo — Rivers had called out Wilcox before the game and even the day before. What did Rivers want to see?
“That was it,” he said after Wilcox’s performance.
Here’s how easy it seemed for the Celtics: Before the game, they drew up and started running a play they had never run before. Ever. But the group on the floor ran it well, to the point that the Celtics scored the game’s first 13 points.
“They had the basketball IQ to keep working and they showed us options I didn’t even know we had,” Rivers said.
The Celtics came in after two poor road performances against Denver and the Lakers, where the Celtics strayed from ball movement and defense.
But the Celtics returned to those principles in a furry. They scored 18 fast-break points and also had 48 in the paint. They scored 20 points off 13 Phoenix turnovers and shot 56 percent as a team.
Paul Pierce was barely on the radar for this game, another sign of just how odd it was for the Celtics. Their captain played 26 minutes (18 of them in the first half) and scored 8 points on 3-of-5 shooting.
Pierce’s services were not required for a win, especially with Green burying shots from all over the court.
“He knew he didn’t play well against the Lakers,” Rivers said. “He was really down after that game. He thought he didn’t play well. He voiced that.
“You didn’t know if he was going to play well tonight, but you knew he was going to be focused and play hard. The fact that he played well was the gravy.”
Gravy was the order of the day for the Celtics. Their win was nothing but.