Just over two weeks ago, Al Horford singlehandedly helped the Boston Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons with his late-game heroics.
On Monday night, he did just the opposite.
The Celtics trailed the Houston Rockets by one point with 5.3 seconds left in regulation when Horford got an easy path to the hoop for a potential game-winning layup. But sometimes the easiest shots are the hardest to make.
Horford’s blown layup allowed the Rockets to escape with a 107-106 win at Toyota Center and snap the Celtics’ two-game losing streak.
“I felt like we had our opportunities,” Horford said after the game, via Celtics.com, “and I didn?t execute as well as I wanted to toward the end (Monday), so I take the fall for that.”
Boston’s heartbreaking final sequence capped an up-and-down night in Houston. The Celtics trailed by 10 points at halftime but outscored the Rockets 35-19 in the third quarter to jump ahead. The C’s led by eight with seven minutes remaining, but Houston right stormed back, as James Harden’s 3-pointer with 54 seconds left put the Rockets up five.
That set up a wild possession for Houston which saw Harden commit an offensive flagrant one foul on Marcus Smart that gave the C’s new life.
Smart hit both ensuing free throws, but Horford couldn’t capitalize on the final possession.
The All-Star big man had an otherwise excellent night, scoring a team-high 21 points with six rebounds, nine assists and two blocks. Isaiah Thomas dropped 20 points, while Avery Bradley recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards.
Harden was a beast for Houston, racking up 37 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while going 18 for 18 from the free throw line.
The Celtics (12-9) won’t have much time to dwell on the loss, as they travel to Orlando on Wednesday to take on the Magic.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images