Phoenix guard Devin Booker produced a game for the ages Friday, but his scintillating 70-point haul wasn't enough as the Suns fell 130-120 to the Celtics in Boston.
Booker, 20, became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game and the youngest to do so.
He tied for the 10th-most points scored in a game in NBA history and joined Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson as the only other 70-point scorers in league history.
"When you're in the gym alone and you're taking shots, you're making them consecutively," said Booker, whose previous career high was 39. "That's what it started feeling like. I felt comfortable. I was at my home gym training. It started getting easier and easier. Shots just kept falling -- tough shots, too."
Booker connected on 21 of his 40 shot attempts, made four of 11 three-pointers and 24 of 26 free throws.
For good measure he pulled down eight rebounds and handed out six assists.
Booker scored 51 points in the second half, including 28 in the final quarter.
His performance topped the 60-point effort in December by Golden State's Klay Thompson for the highest scoring game of the season.
It was also the most points ever scored by a player against the Celtics. His free throw with 45.2 seconds left broke Elgin Baylor's record of 64 points against Boston, set in 1959.
"If you play basketball you've been in that zone," Booker told NBA TV. "Going against a really good Boston team with a really good defense I knew I was going to have to lock in tonight and once I got it going my teammates kept finding me, kept setting screens for me.
"Once I got past 50, then they were just going to me every possession."
The Suns used their fouls and timeouts in the fourth quarter to stop the clock and get the ball to Booker, helping him run up his total.He missed two shots in the final seconds, one a three-pointer.
- Night to remember -
With their team leading, Boston fans were cheering him on.
"That meant a lot, especially here in Boston," Booker said. "I know how rowdy they can be on opponents sometimes. I respect that. That's how it should be.
"It's a night I'm going to remember the rest of my life."
But Celtics star Isaiah Thomas, who scored 34 points and handed out seven assists, wasn't thrilled with Suns coach Earl Watson's late-game tactics.
"It was weird what they were doing," he said. "I've never seen anything like that. It is what it is. I don't think anybody has ever seen that -- continuing to call timeouts, continuing to foul when we were up 15, but I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do."
Watson was unrepentant.
"Calling timeouts at the end kept the game close," he said. "It's basketball. I'm not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don't like us while we build ... so what, do something about it."
Despite Booker's exploits, Boston never trailed, leading by as many as 26 in the first half.
"Obviously, he got it going," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, whose team remained one game behind the Eastern Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers and two and a half games ahead of the third-placed Washington Wizards. "And he's a really good player. I thought no matter who we tried on him, what we tried on him, he was in one of those zones in a rhythm."