The C's have suffered their ugliest loss of the season to date, a 93-77 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Rockets. They've been swept 0-2 in their season series with the Rockets, and they remain half a game behind Chicago in the race for the East's No. 1 playoff seed.
Kevin Martin finishes with 25 points and Kyle Lowry adds 20. The Celtics' backcourt just got brutally outplayed.
Jeff Green leads the way for the Celtics off the bench with 17 points, while Glen Davis adds 16 with seven rebounds.
The C's head from Houston straight to New Orleans, where they take on the Hornets on Saturday night. Back-to-backs have not been friendly to the C's in 2011.
Fourth quarter, 2:28, Rockets 92-73: The one bright spot in this loss is getting to watch Avery Bradley do his thing in garbage time. He's doing a heck of a job chasing Kyle Lowry around.
Bradley's going to be a very nice player someday. But for now, he's relegated to doing mop-up work as the Celtics finish getting their butts kicked.
Not a fun job for Bradley. It's been a pretty unfun night for everyone else in green, too.
Fourth quarter, 6:03, Rockets 90-67: Here are two pieces of evidence that Doc Rivers is admitting defeat — one's Sasha Pavlovic, and the other's Avery Bradley. The C's have officially emptied their bench.
The C's need to rest their legs and recharge. Tomorrow's another day.
Another game day, that is.
Fourth quarter, 9:05, Rockets 83-65: Quietly, the Celtics have gone on a 13-2 run to cut the Rockets' lead from 29 to 18. Glen Davis has been big off the bench.
You don't want to say that this game isn't over, but… maybe this game isn't over?
End of third quarter, Rockets 81-56: The Celtics cut the Houston lead to 29 to 25, but no matter. They've got to cut bait and sit their starters. With a back-to-back rounding out in New Orleans tomorrow, the C's have no leeway to overextend their guys.
Time to surrender. This isn't Boston's night.
Kevin Martin now has 24 points to lead the Rockets; Kyle Lowry has 18.
Third quarter, 1:28, Rockets 81-52: The other damning stat: the 3s. Oh, of course, the 3s.
Kyle Lowry has made four from long range; Kevin Martin has two. Overall, the Rockets are 8-of-17 from 3, while the Celtics are 1-for-6. Quite the disparity.
It's all about effort. On defense, the C's aren't working to contest shots; on offense, they're not moving the ball to generate open looks. Bad bad bad.
Third quarter, 2:32, Rockets 79-52: How many inside shots did the Rockets just miss before Patrick Patterson got that offensive board and dropped it back in? That may have been a fifth- or sixth-chance bucket. I lost count.
When the Celtics look back on this blowout loss, that's one thing that will stick out — the Rockets are getting second-chance points galore, and the C's aren't. The Rockets have a 33-22 advantage on the boards, including 8-4 offensive.
Third quarter, 5:31, Rockets 72-48: Now Kevin Garnett has four fouls, as does Nenad Krstic. The C's are going to try to do this without their two main big men.
They'd better hope for a monster third quarter from Glen Davis and Jeff Green.
Third quarter, 6:51, Rockets 70-48: The Celtics just look lost defensively. First Kyle Lowry drives past three C's with no difficulty, cruising to the basket; then Nenad Krstic falls asleep on his man, and Chuck Hayes gets an easy bucket.
The C's are waving the white flag with this defensive effort. This game's a lost cause.
Third quarter, 9:31, Rockets 66-44: The Celtics are still down 22, but they get one bucket from Rajon Rondo and one from Ray Allen to open the third quarter. There's a nice silver lining.
The C's need their guards to match Houston's on both ends. Martin and Lowry have owned this game so far.
Rondo's not his same athletic self tonight, but he can do other things to make up for that. The playmaking and the respectable mid-range jump shot should still be there.
Halftime, Rockets 62-40: Tempers are flaring in Houston. Jordan Hill pushes Glen Davis; Davis goes flying into the front row. He jumps out ready to take Hill's head off.
You can't blame Big Baby and the Celtics for being a little perturbed. They're getting their butts kicked. It's a 20-7 run to close the half for the Rockets. The Celtics look like a No. 16 seed getting demolished by a No. 1.
Kevin Martin has 19 points for the Celtics, including 10-for-10 free throws. Kyle Lowry has 16.
The C's need to wake up. Fast. This is embarrassing.
Second quarter, 2:49, Rockets 51-37: Rockets guards Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry have a combined 25 points; Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen have just six for the Celtics. That's all you need to know.
Rondo doesn't look like himself. Kevin Garnett says the little man's playing hurt; at this point, it's hard not to believe him.
The Celtics are down 14. This is pretty ugly.
Second quarter, 5:54, Rockets 40-30: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are now a combined 1-for-9 from the field. If the Celtics can't get any perimeter offense going, they're going to be in real trouble.
The combination of Brad Miller and Jordan Hill down low is making it really tough for the Celtics to drive, too. If the C's can't score inside and they can't score out, what do they do?
Yeah, they don't know either.
Second quarter, 7:11, Rockets 38-30: Troy Murphy hits a corner jump shot with a sniper's accuracy. Perfect shot. Maybe now Doc Rivers can breathe a slight sigh of relief — his second unit had looked downright terrible up until that shot.
Doc's been experimenting with Ray Allen and four reserves, using Delonte West at the point and Carlos Arroyo on the bench cheering. That unit just isn't clicking.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are about to check back in. The C's need those two to be huge for these next seven minutes.
Second quarter, 10:29, Rockets 30-24: Jordan Hill throws down a big dunk in Glen Davis' face. Doc Rivers quickly burns a 20-second timeout. He's not happy.
The Celtics aren't getting back on defense and putting some resistance in the Rockets' way. They've got to work harder for this one.
End of first quarter, Rockets 28-22: The Celtics leave Kyle Lowry wide open for a 3 on the wing, and he takes advantage. Lowry's now 3-for-3 from long distance.
The Rockets close the quarter on a 10-3 run, and they're now up six at the break. Lowry had 11 points and two assists.
For Boston, Kevin Garnett leads the way with eight points, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
The C's have to keep Lowry and the Rockets' other feisty little guys from lighting them up.
First quarter, 2:30, Rockets 20-19: Courtney Lee comes off the bench and jacks up a 3 right away. These Rockets are chucking like crazy (no pun intended, Mr. Hayes).
The Rockets are 1-for-5 from 3-point range. The Celtics are zero for zero. They're trying to focus on ball movement and efficient post offense. They're doing OK at that, but not perfect. We've seen a couple plays break down early, leading to questionable mid-range jumpers.
The Celtics are still within one despite their inconsistent execution.
First quarter, 5:28, Rockets 14-11: Kyle Lowry drains a 3 for Houston; the Rockets get greedy and gun for another, with Chase Budinger hoisting up a jumper next. The C's take the ball away, and Paul Pierce gets to the hoop and draws a foul.
Pierce is only 1-for-3 so far, but he's taking initiative and attacking the basket. The C's need that intensity right now.
First quarter, 7:28, Rockets 8-7: The Celtics are turning things around, rattling off a quick run of 6-0 and counting.
Kevin Garnett slams a Chase Budinger driving layup out of bounds, shouting a couple expletives in midair for good measure. The Celtics get the ball back, and Paul Pierce quickly gets to the hoop for a layup of his own.
The C's are the bigger, more physical team. They're starting to prove it.
First quarter, 9:05, Rockets 8-1: Chuck Hayes digs an elbow into Nenad Krstic, spins, and cruises past Krstic to the basket. Easy layup.
The Rockets are now 3-for-4 from the field.
The Celtics are 0-for-5.
The C's don't look right on either end of the floor.
First quarter, 11:00, Rockets 2-0: Both sides trade stops to open before Patrick Patterson opens the ballgame with a long jumper for 2. The Rockets get on the board first.
Patterson is a really impressive young big man. He's athletic, active and skilled on both ends. If he can make shots like that consistently, he's going to be scary good.
7:45 p.m.: The Celtics get a nice bit of pregame news — the Rockets will be without Luis Scola for the fifth consecutive game, as the Houston power forward continues to mend from a sore left knee.
Scola tried to hit the practice floor prior to game time, but the knee wasn't cooperating. He wanted to play, as the Rockets are in the midst of a tough fight for a West playoff spot, but he's just not quite ready.
The C's will have a much easier time without Scola to worry about. The feisty Argentinian is a great rebounder, defender and energy guy on both ends. Kevin Garnett's job just got a lot cushier.
9:30 a.m.: The Celtics have hit a bit of a late-season slump this March, going a mediocre 5-3 this month despite a weak schedule. They seem to be sputtering a little, perhaps saving a bit of energy for the postseason grind that lies ahead. But now, with the playoff race getting tighter and every game counting, the C's are beginning to feel the urgency.
The Celtics are now neck and neck with the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, which makes this upcoming road trip vitally important. The C's have three away games in the next four days against fringe playoff contenders — Houston, New Orleans and then New York, and each one is big for their playoff hopes.
"We need all these games," captain Paul Pierce said. "This is an exciting time of the year. You smell the end coming. It's like when it’s October and you smell the beginning of the season coming, and you get anxious. That's what it’s like for me and the guys. We smell the playoffs coming, so guys are really buckling down.
"We want to finish off the season on a good note, so this is a very important trip for us. We want to get all these games."
Now's the time for the Celtics to hit their stride. They're getting healthier and more cohesive than they've been in a long while — Glen Davis returned from a knee injury over the weekend, Delonte West bounced back Wednesday from a sprained ankle, and the new post-trade deadline pieces are playing together better than ever before. Even Shaquille O'Neal has been getting shots up in practice. Things are coming together.
The Celtics beat the Pacers on Wednesday night, 92-80, beginning to climb their way out of a losing funk. They had lost three of their last four games going in.
Now they'll look to build some positive momentum. The road trip begins in Houston, where the C's take on a Rockets team that’s fighting for a chance to sneak into the West playoff picture.
Tipoff between the Celtics and Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
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