When a team turns in a shooting performance that can, without hyperbole, be called one of the worst in NBA history, it’s probably in for a long night.
That was the case Saturday for the Boston Celtics, who couldn’t buy a 3-pointer in a 104-90 loss to the Houston Rockets.
The Celtics came up empty on each of their first 21 attempts from beyond the arc — a slump that stretched deep into the fourth quarter. By the time Jeff Green finally snapped the drought on his sixth attempt from deep, it was far too little, far too late.
All told, the C’s attempted 25 3-pointers and made just one, putting them in some unfortunate company. Green’s bucket prevented Boston from breaking the NBA record for most missed threes in a single game without a make. That dubious honor belongs to the Denver Nuggets, who went 0-for-22 from 3-point land in a December 2012 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
(Interestingly enough, the Blazers went 0-for-20 from deep 10 days before that game but somehow came away with an 18-point win.)
While the Celtics were laying bricks, the Rockets were piling up points. Houston never trailed in the game, scoring 37 in the first quarter and holding onto a double-digit lead for the remainder of the night.
Boston threatened to make a game of it by cutting the deficit to 11 points midway through the third, but a big 3-pointer by James Harden effectively killed that rally, and the Rockets were able to coast the rest of the way.
“I thought they really played aggressively out of the gate, probably more aggressive than we did at both ends of the court, especially in the first nine minutes or so,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “I don’t think we ever really caught up to that. We made that little run in the third quarter, and we really played them even the rest of the game. It was 28-12 at one point.
“They put us on our heels. We’re not going to be able to withstand spurts like that, so we’ve got to make sure we learn from it and move on. And hey, let’s say we throw in five threes instead of one, it’s a totally different game.”
Harden was the engine that powered the Rockets, going off for 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block in the win. The two-time All-Star shot just 35.7 percent from the floor (5 of 14) but made his living at the foul line, from which he was a perfect 14-for-14.
Terrence Jones also continued to torment the Celtics (25 points, 10 rebounds), and Dwight Howard (14 points, eight rebounds, four assists) made life miserable for Boston’s bigs down low.
“They’re athletic as heck,” said Stevens, who called Harden a “special” player. “Terrence Jones is really getting better. They had Dwight Howard on Kelly (Olynyk) and Dwight Howard was out into the floor and made it really difficult on Kelly. Hats off to them. They played great.”
The Celtics conclude their Texas road trip Monday against the Dallas Mavericks before returning home.
Photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
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