Celtics Wrap: Woeful Three Quarters Doom Boston In Loss To Rockets


Mar 3, 2019

BOSTON — In the end, the Celtics deserved to lose.

Following an embarrassing three quarters Sunday night at TD Garden, Boston nearly pulled off an improbable comeback against the Houston Rockets. But trailing by 20-plus points for a bulk of the game proved too much, as James Harden and Co. eventually prevailed with a 115-104 victory.

Harden finished with a game-high 42 points while shooting 14-for-31 from the field and 6-for-18 from 3-point range. Eric Gordon also poured in 32 points while shooting 8-for-12 from beyond the arc.

Kyrie Irving was the leading scorer for the Celtics, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Al Horford chipped in 19 points while Marcus Smart finished with 18.

The Rockets shot 41.2 percent from 3-point range, while the Celtics finished at 28.6 percent.

With the loss, the Celtics fell to 38-26, while the Rockets improved to 38-25 with the win.

Here’s how it all went down:

PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford

Simply put: Houston came out with a sense purpose, and the Celtics did not.

Thanks to Harden (13 points) and Gordon (11 points), the Rockets held a 33-23 lead after the first frame. Houston shot 56.5 percent from the field and and 36.4 percent from 3-point range, compared to 52.6 percent and 25 percent for Boston.

Irving led the way for the Celtics with seven first-quarter points.

Boston finished the frame with six turnovers, compared to three for Houston.

The second quarter was an ugly one for the Celtics.

With boos raining from the Garden rafters throughout the frame, the Celtics got outplayed and out-hustled on their way to a 65-43 halftime deficit. Harden and Gordon continued to lead the way for the Rockets, finishing the half with 23 and 20 points, respectively.

The Celtics failed to offer many highlights, but Jaylen Brown (six first-half points, three rebounds) did play well off the bench.

Irving (14 points) and Horford (10 points) led Boston in scoring at the half.

The Celtics showed signs of life during the third quarter, but it mattered not, as Houston closed the frame with a 22-point advantage.

Gordon opened the quarter with consecutive threes to push the Rockets’ lead to 28, prompting more boos from the Garden crowd. However, the Celtics battled back, eventually narrowing the deficit to 17.

But Harden (37 points through three quarters) simply was too much.

Irving had 10 points in the quarter, while Horford poured in seven.

As bad as the Celtics were through three quarters, they were that good in the fourth.

Boston got as close as eight points with 2:30 remaining, but the Rockets made their free throws — and came up with some timely rebounds — down the stretch to ice the game. The Celtics’ bench, particularly Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, played a huge role in Boston’s comeback attempt.

The Celtics outscored the rockets 26-15 in the final quarter.

This Marcus Smart put-back pulled the Celtics within single digits and sent the Garden into a (temporary) frenzy:

The Celtics will hit the road for a four-game California road trip, kicked off Tuesday night with a game against the Golden State Warriors. Tip Off from Oracle Arena is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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