The Boston Celtics suffered their worst loss of the season, falling 109-85 to the Houston Rockets. From the opening tip the Celtics were overmatched, as they never led the game, and they trailed by as many as 35 points.
Going down, down, down...
The Rockets soared out of the gates with a ferocious 18-1 lead to begin the game, but the Celtics jabbed back, cutting the deficit to 28-18. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the Houston hit Boston with a devastating haymaker, a 15-to-0 run, giving them a 43-18 lead minutes into the second quarter.
After shooting 69 percent in the first half, Houston led 52-34. You would expect the Celtics to come out swinging in the second half, but it was the Rockets who did just that. They extended the lead to 35, at 88-53, and that's when the backups came into the game. By the final buzzer, the Celtics still trailed by 24, and they lost 109-85.
Forward Terrence Jones scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting for the Rockets, and center Dwight Howard had a double double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Houston shot 58.9 percent for the game, but that is misleading, as they were at an unbelievable 72.2 percent after the first half. Courtney Lee led the way for Celtics with 17 points, as the Celtics shot a dismal 32.3 percent from the floor.
"I'm Beggin' You" to stop, Houston
There is no denying that the Celtics were just outmatched by the Rockets, which has been the story in many of their losses this season. Houston ran the floor more relentlessly, making for plenty of easy points in transition, but they also played hard on defense, forcing the Celtics into a 32.3 shooting percentage for the game.
At one point I was just hoping the torture would stop. Most of the fans left the arena, the Celtics looked like they were in a daze on the bench, the anti-Gino (aka MarShon Brooks) was in the game, and yet, the clock didn't seem to move. Was this game ever going to end? Finally it did, but it won't be easy to forget about for quite awhile.
Jeff Green's "Rude Mood"
I thought we were supposed to see the "mean Jeff Green" a lot more often this season, but no player showed up less than he did. This is second game in a row that he has been a total non-factor. Green played 22 minutes, shot 2-of-7 for only 4 points, and managed to grab a measly 2 rebounds. Some fans think this guy is supposed to replace Paul Pierce? No, just no. Maybe, and I mean maybe, that player is in the 2014 Draft. The fact is, stars don't have games like this -- especially two of them in a row -- and if he really wants to be "the man," he'll have to change things quickly.
Tonight's game was a great reminder of how difficult games can be without star point guard Rajon Rondo. Guards Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, and Phil Pressey combined for 7 turnovers to 8 assists, and shot only 6-of-32. Statistics still don't really tell the whole story though, as it seemed the Celtics were uncomfortable getting into any offensive sets. Sure, it's unlikely this game would've been won had Rondo even played, but it might have been far more competitive.
Were there any bright spots in tonight's game? Well, no, but here are three silver linings: First, I thought Avery Bradley never gave up despite the fact the game was obviously over. He had a rough night offensively, shooting only 5-of-22, but he played tough defense, snatching 2 steals. Whenever he went out and defended James Harden on the perimeter, he made things extremely difficult for him. Harden had 7 turnovers, and many of them were due to Bradley's ability to force him into difficult spots. Secondly, Jared Sullinger fought hard inside for rebounds, grabbing 9 of them. He only scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, but he seems to be more comfortable shooting from the outside, and he even dribbled into a nice 18-foot jumper from the elbow. Lastly, Courtney Lee had quite an impressive game off the bench, scoring 17 points. He has continued his hot streak, which is encouraging going forward.
You're wrong if you think things get easier for the Boston Celtics. Tomorrow night Boston heads to San Antonio for a back-to-back against the 9-1 Spurs. On Friday, the Celts return home to face the leaders of the Eastern Conference, the 9-1 Indiana Pacers.