The Boston Celtics are going to live and die by the 3-pointer this season. Saturday night, it was the latter.
The Celtics went a miserable 1-for-25 from 3-point land in a 104-90 loss to the Houston Rockets.
— James Harden was everywhere for the Rockets, finishing with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block in the win. The Celtics’ only answer for the two-time All-Star was to foul him, and that didn’t work either.
Harden made all of his game-high 14 free throws.
— Though the game never really was in doubt, the Celtics did trim the deficit to 11 points midway through the third quarter. The Rockets immediately followed that mini-rally with a 10-0 run of their own, however, and cruised the rest of the way.
“We were getting to the rim, and we were making plays for each other,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “And then I thought we guarded really well in that little spurt. But they also missed a couple of shots. They’re a hard team to guard. James Harden’s special, obviously, and we don’t have an answer individually for Dwight Howard. But I thought the guys that guarded him battled him and did a pretty good job on him.”
— A large factor in the Rockets’ success was their ability to get to the free-throw line. Houston went to the line 40 times in the game, while Boston managed less than half that (18). Stevens blamed this discrepancy on his team’s inability to attack the basket.
“I don’t think we got to the rim enough on the drive or the back-cut,” Stevens said. “They’re really out in the passing lanes. We got a couple to end the half, and I thought we were heading in a good direction, and we got a couple at the end of the second half. But we didn’t finish enough at the rim. We need to finish better, and we need to recognize our ability to drive and cut more. And we will.”
— Kelly Olynyk picked up two fouls in the game’s first two minutes and went on to spend most of the game on the bench. Brandon Bass replaced the second-year big man in the starting lineup to begin the second half, and Olynyk did not reenter the game until Tyler Zeller was whistled for his fifth foul with 3:48 to play in the third.
In all, Olynyk played just 16 minutes. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals.
— A Rajon Rondo dunk is about as common as a solar eclipse, but the point guard decided to throw one down after coming up with a steal midway through the third quarter.
It was Rondo’s first dunk since the 2012-13 season, per Basketball Reference.
— Celtics rookie James Young made his NBA debut in garbage time. The Kentucky product, who did not see the floor in Wednesday’s season opener, scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting in his six minutes of action.
Photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
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