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Houston uses massive free throw edge to coast past Boston: Rockets 104, Celtics 90

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The Celtics offense looked nothing like the well oiled machine we saw in the season opener as they lose their first game of the year.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics opened some eyes with an impressive offensive performance in their season opening win on Wednesday, but struggled to hit their shots tonight in a blowout loss in Houston. While they scored 121 points against the Brooklyn Nets, it took three quarters just to get to about half that total against the Rockets.

The ball movement we saw in the last game was nowhere to be found in the early going as Boston dug themselves into an early hole. They tried to match the Rockets firepower by launching three-pointers early and often, but missed all 8 of their attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter and finished the game by setting a new franchise low with 1-for-25 shooting from long range.

Jeff Green led the Celtics in scoring with 17 and hit the team's only 3-pointer with about four minutes left in the game. Jared Sullinger chipped in 14 points and grabbed 9 boards while battling through foul trouble that clearly frustrated him and led to a late game technical for barking at the officials.

James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 26 points. The Celtics defense hounded him into a 5-for-14 performance from the field, but he more than made up for it at the free throw line by hitting all 14 of his shots from the charity stripe. The Rockets managed to build up their lead with a massive edge in free throw attempts, hitting 28 of 40 from the line. Boston was an efficient 15 of 18, but only got to the line 3 times in the entire first half while the Rockets pulled away early and never allowed the Celtics to make the game close.

Houston dominated inside with their size advantage with Terrance Jones (25 points) and Dwight Howard (14 points), forcing Boston to scramble with their rotation as their big men all got into foul trouble early.

Isaiah Canaan hit a few big three-pointers in his first start at point guard in place of Patrick Beverly, who sat out with a hamstring injury. Canaan played tough defense on Rajon Rondo, who managed only 4 points on 2-for-9 shooting.

The Celtics gave us a lot to be optimistic about in their first game, but followed that up with a painful reminder that this is a young team that will stumble through some inconsistencies throughout the season - especially when they play against an elite team that can over match the Celtics with star power like Harden and Howard.

Hey, it's the first road trip of the season. Better days are ahead for this Celtics squad.