Celtics fend off Rockets, 103-91

Not sure why Russell and Olajuwon got paired up...
Paul Pierce led the way with 23 points, and had two key hoops that held off a Houston 4th quarter rally and propelled the Celtics to a 103-91 victory tonight at the Garden.

In Wednesday's win over Phoenix the Celts top 3 scorers all came off of the bench (Green 14, Terry 13, and Sullinger 12).  The subs continued that trend through the first half again this evening, with Jared Sullinger's 14 points on 7-8 shooting leading the way, followed by 10 from Courtney Lee and 9 from Jeff Green.  Sullinger also had team highs 18 minutes and 8 rebounds at halftime, while Lee posted a ridiculous +20 before the intermission.  In fact the entire bench posted first half +/- numbers of at least +10 or better.

Boston led 53-45 at the break, then began the second half with an 9-0 run to push the lead up to 17.  The C's led by 12 after 3 quarters, 78-66.  But the Rockets fought back in the 4th, using a 12-0 run ending in a Chandler Parsons dunk to cut the Celtics lead down to just 2 with 7:22 to go.  Pierce followed with a clutch 20-foot jumper to stop the skid; and a minute and a half later the margin was back to 10 after a Brandon Bass put back, and a Pierce steal leading to a nice "and one" layup.

Sullinger posted another double double for Boston, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Kevin Garnett also added 17 points, 8 boards, and 4 blocks.

While the Celtics had the lead and appeared to be in control for most of the game, the Rockets can blame this loss on their abysmal free throw shooting.  Houston went just 12-29 from the line, a paltry 41.4%.  Center Omer Asik (1-8) and power forward Greg Smith (0-4) were the main culprits, despite grabbing 19 rebounds between the two of them.  James Harden chipped in 24 points for the Rockets, but also committed 6 turnovers; in large part due to the tenacious defense of Avery Bradley .

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