James Harden, Michael Beasley and the Houston Rockets spoiled the Boston Celtics’ home win streak, upending the Celtics in a 102-98 road victory Friday night at TD Garden.
Harden led all scorers with 32 points, while Beasley contributed 18 off the bench for the Rockets in what was a close but sloppy game from wire to wire. Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 30 points for the Celtics, while Jared Sullinger added 24 points and 12 rebounds.
The loss drops Boston to 39-27 on the season, snapping the club’s 14-game home win streak and a streak of nine consecutive games in which it scored 100 or more points.
The Celtics now sit just a half game ahead of the Miami Heat, who won Friday, for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger
Forget basketball: The Celtics and Rockets couldn’t have dropped a lure in the middle of the ocean over the first 24 minutes of action Friday night. Both teams shot under 40 percent in the first half, and both were downright horrendous from 3-point land.
After Boston started the game shooting 2 for 3 from 3-point range, the team missed its final 11 treys of the half. Houston wasn’t any better, as it went 2 for 15 from long distance in the first half as well.
Adding insult to injury, the teams combined for 16 turnovers in the half, including nine for the Celtics and four for Thomas, who had committed just one in his previous 127 minutes of action.
You might have thought the ball was a floundering fish, though, as Harden also had four turnovers in the first 24.
DEATH BY BEASLEY
You might have thought Beasley was a former No. 2 overall pick Friday night.
Actually, he is, but the journeyman role player has never looked like it consistently throughout his NBA career. In fact, he didn’t even have a job when this season started, so he went to China to play for the Shandong Golden Stars.
While there, Beasley averaged 31.9 points and 13.2 rebounds en route to the league MVP award. He certainly looked like it Friday, when he poured in 18 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes of action in just his third game in the NBA this season.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens searched for an answer, even turning to rookie defensive stalwart Jordan Mickey for help in the second half, but nothing helped much.
Stevens complimented Beasley, calling him a “professional scorer” in his postgame press conference, as aired on CSNNE, and added that he “crushed us” throughout the game.
In addition to Mickey, Celtics rookie point guard Terry Rozier saw some extended action in the third quarter and played the best minutes of his young career.
Rozier tallied three points, three assists and a ferocious seven rebounds in 10 minutes. He was part of a four-guard lineup that featured Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Thomas.
Rozier and Mickey mostly found themselves on the floor due to a Jae Crowder injury. The Boston Celtics’ starting small forward rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and, after attempting to play through the pain, left the game.
He was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle and did not return. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday.
Stevens said Crowder “twisted (his ankle) in,” adding that there “wasn’t much swelling” and that the prognosis seemed to be positive.
Sullinger might have had the best game of his career. The fourth-year big man tallied 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. He didn’t set career-highs in points or rebounds, but his defensive prowess and hustle easily made him Boston’s best player on the court all night.
The Celtics get a few days to breathe before traveling to Indiana for Tuesday’s game against Paul George and the Pacers. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images