Final, Rockets win, 104-92
The Celtics made it interesting in the fourth quarter but they couldn’t contain the Rockets’ offensive firepower.
Dwight Howard led all players with 32 points and added 10 rebounds.
Rebounds: Celtics 49-45
Steals: Boston 8-6
Blocks: Houston 9-6
Turnovers: Boston 15-14
Points in the Paint: 58-36
Fourth quarter, 1:29, Rockets 104-92: The Rockets have pushed their lead back to 12 after Jerryd Bayless got the Celtics to within eight points late in the quarter. Dwight Howard has been good at the foul line and Houston is scoring baskets off defensive rebounds and turnovers to prevent any sort of Boston comeback.
Rockets small forward Terrence Jones has become the fifth Houston starter to score double-digit points. He’s also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Fourth Quarter, 2:58, Rockets 96-88: Boston has a legitimate chance to win and it’s because of Jerryd Bayless. Jeremy Lin has no answer for the Celtics’ point guard. Bayless has scored 13 fourth-quarter points and has been a pest defensively.
The Rockets are still in control and will win this game if they hit their free throws, especially Dwight Howard. The Celtics have fouled Dwight Howard several times in this quarter but he’s 6-of-10 from the line.
Fourth quarter, 3:51, Rockets 93-83: Jerryd Bayless continues to dominate with nine points and four assists in the quarter. He’s also impressed defensively with two steals and two blocks. The recently acquired guard is doing a great job of pushing the pace off of defensive rebounds, which Boston failed to do in the second and third quarters.
Even though the Celtics have trimmed 10 points off the Rockets’ lead, their defense must improve to make a serious comeback. Houston is 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Fourth quarter, 7:45, Rockets 86-73: Jerryd Bayless has provided a spark off the bench with two sensational blocks, seven points and two assists. He’s been far more effective at both ends of the floor than starting point guard Jordan Crawford.
Fourth quarter, 10:27, Rockets 84-69: Five quick points by Brandon Bass has trimmed the Rockets lead to 15. The Celtics are finally attacking the rim and it’s leading to positive results. Houston has taken Dwight Howard out of the game so this might be Boston’s best chance to make a real comeback attempt.
End of third quarter, Rockets 81-65: Houston’s starters are outscoring their Boston counterparts 71-49. Four of the Rockets’ five starters are in double figures, and the only player who isn’t — Terrence Jones — has a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Rockets have a huge lead because of their dominance in the paint. They have a 48-24 advantage inside and Dwight Howard is responsible for most of that success with a game-high 26 points.
Third quarter, 1:59, Rockets 79-61: Avery Bradley has scored the Celtics’ last four points and leads all scorers with 22 points. He’s 10-of-16 from the field while the rest of the team is 16-of-53.
Dwight Howard is starting to dominate with 12 points in the quarter. The Celtics have defended him with Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Vitor Faverani, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk but none of them are having any success.
The problem with doubling Howard is that Houston has so many good outside shooters on the perimeter. Chandler Jones, Jeremy Lin and Omri Casspi have combined to shoot 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Third quarter, 4:38, Rockets 72-55: Jeremy Lin has found Dwight Howard for two straight alley-oops as Houston continues to dominate in the paint with a 40-22 advantage.
Howard has eight points in the quarter and no one on the Celtics is strong enough to keep him off the defensive glass.
On the bright side for Boston, Jordan Crawford has hit two straight outside shots after starting 1-of-9 from the field. He needs to heat up for the Celtics to eliminate this deficit.
Third quarter, 10:02, Rockets 60-45: Four straight baskets, one of them being a 3-point shot by Chandler Parsons has given Houston its biggest lead of the night at 15 points.
Houston is now shooting an impressive 45 percent (5-of-11) from beyond the arc and is dominating the rebounding battle. Boston’s defense is also struggling. Not only are the Rockets easily getting to the second level of the Celtics’ defense, Boston’s big men aren’t contesting their opponent’s shots.
Avery Bradley is the only Celtic showing any effort at the offensive end of the floor. Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries are a combined 4-of-24 from the field.
Third quarter, 11:28, Rockets 54-43: The second half is underway and Terrence Jones increases Houston’s lead to 11 with a basket in the paint.
Halftime, Rockets 52-43: Houston dominated the last half of the second quarter and earned a nine-point lead at the half. The Rockets actually outscored the Celtics 33-16 in the quarter.
Boston’s troubles came from turnovers (five of them in the second quarter). Houston has an athletic team and will score easy baskets in transition with their speed if you turn the ball over.
The Celtics need scoring contributions from players other than Avery Bradley. He’s shooting 6-of-9 from the floor but the rest of the team is just shooting 29 percent (13-of-44). Bradley is the only C’s player with more than six points.
Jeff Green had a horrible first half with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. His lack of aggressiveness and movement without the ball is hurting Boston’s offense. He must become a factor in the second half for the Celtics to win this game.
Here are the first half stats:
Rebounds: Houston 26-25
Assists: Houston 11-9
Blocks: Houston 7-4
Turnovers: Boston 8-6
Points in the Paint: Houston 30-20
Second quarter, 2:00, Rockets 45-37: Houston has opened up its largest lead of the game by taking the ball to the basket and improving its outside shooting. James Harden and Jeremy Lin have combined for eight points in the last three minutes and are easily getting to the rim.
Dwight Howard leads the Rockets with 12 points and has also pulled down five rebounds.
Second quarter, 3:00, Rockets 39-37: Houston has gained a 23-22 rebounding advantage and took its first lead since early in the first quarter with a pair of Jeremy Lin free throws.
Both teams are protecting the rim well and have combined for 11 blocks (Houston seven, Boston four), some of which have been quite impressive.
Second quarter, 5:02, 35-35: The Celtics bench is starting to make a positive impact. Brad Stevens has already played 10 guys, and the bench has given the team 10 points so far. Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk has scored four points and grabbed four rebounds.
Second quarter, 8:30, Celtics 31-30: Boston continues to win the rebounding battle. Jared Sullinger just scored after the Celtics grabbed three offensive boards on one possession. With Dwight Howard out of the game, the Celtics should be able to control the glass against forwards such as Terrence Jones, Omri Casspi and Chandler Parsons.
On the other end, Houston is penetrating Boston’s perimeter defense way too easily. James Harden and Jeremy Lin are quick players and difficult to guard, but the Boston big men will be in foul trouble soon if they keep having to bail out the guards defensively.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-19: After a 7-0 run by the Rockets, Boston closed the opening 12 minutes with six unanswered points for a 27-19 lead.
Avery Bradley led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also played fantastic defense on Rockets guard James Harden, who has only four points on 2-of-6 shooting. Bradley and Dwight Howard are the only two players with more than four points.
Both teams grabbed 13 rebounds in the quarter. The Celtics had three turnovers and the Rockets had four. Houston had a 12-8 advantage in the paint.
First quarter, 2:39, Celtics 21-12: Avery Bradley is on fire this quarter. He has a game-high 12 points and is 5-of-7 from the field. Boston also has a 12-10 rebounding advantage, which is allowing it to get open baskets in transition.
Houston is shooting 5-of-20 from the floor and 0-2 from beyond the arc. James Harden has struggled with just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
First quarter, 5:55, Celtics 14-8: Avery Bradley hits a 3-point shot from the corner and has nine of the team’s 14 points so far. Boston is doing a good job of moving the ball quickly to find the open man. The Rockets aren’t getting from the low-block to the perimeter in enough time to bother Boston’s outside shooters.
First quarter, 8:20, Rockets 6-4: James Harden finds Dwight Howard on an alley-oop and the Rockets lead 6-4. Howard has a huge size and strength advantage over the Boston frontcourt. The Celtics need to double team him, box out and send multiple players to the defensive glass to have any hope of winning the rebounding battle.
7:40 p.m.: We’re underway at the garden. Jeremy lin scores the first basket of the game and receives a loud applause from the Rockets fans in attendance.
7:37 p.m.: Starting lineups are below.
7:20 p.m.: The projected starters appear below.
7:15 p.m.: Tip-off is less than 30 minutes away and we have a starting lineup update.
According to Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram, Celtics forward Jared Sullinger will return to the starting lineup. Kris Humphries will remain a starter as well.
5:45 p.m.: After a difficult Western Conference road trip in which they went 0-5, the Boston Celtics begin a three-game homestand on Monday night at TD Garden against a talented Houston Rockets team led by superstars Dwight Howard and James Harden.
Following a surprisingly strong start to the year, Boston is becoming what it was expected to be — a bad team likely to finish at the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings.
The Celtics are 1-9 in their last 10 games, dropping their record to 13-25. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Rockets in town Monday night, the rapidly improving Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night and the only meeting of the season in Boston with the rival Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
For the Celtics to have any chance of victory against the Rockets, they must play strong defense for 48 minutes and rebound consistently. Houston is the third-highest scoring team in the NBA and also ranks seventh in rebounding. The Rockets also have strong guard play with Jeremy Lin and Harden capable of scoring 20-plus points any night.
Follow all of the action from the Garden with NESN’s Celtics-Rockets live blog.