The Boston Celtics' 14-game home win streak was ended by the Houston Rockets in a 102-98 loss in the TD Garden. The C's struggled to shoot the ball all night and ultimately couldn't complete the comeback in the closing minutes.
The Rockets were led by James Harden (32 pts, 4 ast, 3 reb) and surprisingly Michael Beasley (18 pts, 8 reb). Beasley sparked the Rockets in the second half when the Celtics were surging a comeback.
On the other side, Boston's Isaiah Thomas (30 pts), and Jared Sullinger (24 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 2 blk) highlighted the Celtics' box score. Sullinger stuffed his statsheet, and the C's were given an incredible boost by Terry Rozier (3 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast). Rozier who changed the game with his hustle logged 10 minutes and helped guide the Celtics back into the game.
- The loss snaps the home win streak at 14.
- Jae Crowder (4 pts, 1-8 FG) went down in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. He would not return and will be evaluated.
- The Celtics shot an abysmal 37.4% from the floor and 25.8% from outside. After hitting his first attempt in the first quarter, Avery Bradley finished 1-8 from beyond the three-point line. In spite of the poor shooting, the Celtics were able to stay in the game.
See below for in game highlights:
The Celtics jumped out to an early 7-2 lead on 3-for-3 shooting using strong defense as a catalyst to begin the game. Using fastbreak, the C's were able to build their early lead, and show off their sick handles:
Thomas tallied six fastbreak points in the first quarter alone, all on crazy outlets from Jared Sullinger. This highlight came on the heels of a 2-for-10 skid after the hot start. Those shooting woes allowed Houston to climb back into the game, in spite of their own poor shooting. Isaiah's slick moves helped jump start the stalling offense. The rest of the quarter was mostly even with the Celtics snagging a four point leading at the end of the first quarter.Did we mention that Isaiah Thomas has sick handles? We've got proof: pic.twitter.com/qqLU2dDpf8— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2016
The second frame continued as the first ended, relatively even; exchanging baskets like punches until the Celtics started to get careless with the ball around the eight minute mark. Two turnovers and a missed three led to three fastbreak buckets for the Rockets that gave them their first lead of the game. 31-29, Houston.
Boston started to calm down with the ball, but missed shots allowed Houston to take control. That plus easy plays under the basket for the Rockets:
The C's weren't out of it yet, though. Sullinger made the Celtics' final three baskets of the half, the last of which gave Boston a one point lead with 1:15 to go. The Rockets hit two more baskets before the horn and went into the half up 46-43.Don't know what's happening but the Celtics are breaking down bad defensively on their rotations under the basket. Wide open dunks— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) March 12, 2016
Boston shot 34.9% from the floor in the first half, while Houston went 39.6%. The two teams combined to be 4-for-29 from behind the arc with each squad hitting two threes in the first 24 minutes. Isaiah led all scorers with 14 points.
Coming out of halftime, the Rockets launched into a quick 10 point lead. The Celtics first points of the half weren't until the 9:07 mark on a layup by Jae Crowder. Otherwise, Boston couldn't buy a basket. Then, the Celts regained their confidence. A big three by Thomas jump started the offense. The following possession, Harden heaved up a three assuming he would get the whistle, Evan Turner grabbed the airball, threw a touchdown pass downcourt to Avery Bradley who threw it down for two. 56-50, Houston.
The Celtics clawed to within four points, but an and-one for James Harden and a three for Corey Brewer put Boston down seven, 67-60 Houston.
Then Sullinger was left wide open behind the arc and tallied his first three-pointer of the night, cutting the deficit to four. The three was only the second of the half for the Celtics. Then, in a 5-point game, Brad Stevens decided to dust off the hack-a-(player). In this case, it was Clint Capela. Terry Rozier was subbed in for Thomas, and the very first Rockets possession Rozier immediately fouled Capela. He went 0-for-2 from the line. Michael Beasley hit a buzzer beater two and the third quarter would end with Houston still up four, 77-73, Rockets.
Into the fourth, Rozier would remain on the court at the start of the frame and it would pay off as he drilled a three on his first shot attempt of the night. The threes would start to rain for Boston as Isaiah put one in from outside to make it a four point game. Beasley was on fire for the Rockets, though, and hit three straight mid-range jumpers.
Then, Stevens tried an experiment. Jordan Mickey was subbed in, (Rozier still hadn't sit yet since being subbed in in the third), to cool down Beasley. While Mickey wasn't contributing yet defensively, Rozier fought on nearly every possession and made a gorgeous pass to Bradley who was streaking down court for the dunk, and then another assist to Thomas who nailed the three.Michael Beasley trying to beat the Celtics by himself this half and it's kind of working.— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) March 12, 2016
Continuing with the experiment, Stevens out of a timeout puts in the smallest lineup the NBA has probably ever seen of Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jared Sullinger. The lineup would pay off, and suddenly it was a three point game after a Sullinger basket. 94-91 Rockets, 3:30 to go in the game.
With 48.4 seconds left, Harden drilled a clutch fadeaway that put the Rockets up by eight points. The Celtics cut it to six, and almost four, but a basket interference call on Marcus Smart waved off the bucket. Boston had possession with 12.7, still down by 6. Thomas converted on a layup, but Boston had to foul Harden after the inbound and just after, Evan Turner and Harden exchanged words leading to a tech being called on Turner. Harden hit the free throw and that sealed the game. Thomas hit a three, but too little too late. Final score: 102-98, Rockets.
Topher Lane is on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports
Topher Lane 3/11/2016 10:15:00 PM Tweet Edit