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Marcus Smart and Robert Williams spark second half surge in blowout of Rockets

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The bench unit fueled an early comeback, then Jaylen Brown scored 24 in a 27-point blowout.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With an almost fully-healthy roster, the Celtics rebounded from a 12-point loss in Brooklyn with a commanding 134-107 win over the Houston Rockets. The loss marked the 16th straight for the Rockets. Boston improved to 20-18 with the win.

When the Rockets had an early eight-point lead, despite missing almost half of their roster to injuries or health and safety precautions, it wasn’t looking good early on for a team that should have been dominating.

But, after Marcus Smart and Robert Williams entered the game, Boston was able to come back and claim a four-point lead at the end of a 38-34 first quarter. The spark plugs off the bench revived what had looked like a lethargic Celtics squad early.

“We knew we had to bring a different kind of energy, me and Marcus,” Williams said. “We noticed the slow start, we were just trying to get it together.”

The Celtics were able to pull ahead in the second quarter after holding the Rockets to two points in the first 5:30 of the quarter. Jaylen Brown scored 16 points in the second quarter en route to a team-high 24.

Williams played a pivotal role in the win, putting up a double-double and sparking the first quarter comeback. Williams, who finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds in 19 minutes, also blocked three shots.

Kemba Walker, who struggled to hit shots in the first half, exploded to open the third quarter, scoring 11 points in two minutes. Walker ended the game with 16 points, five assists and six rebounds in his 26 minutes.

The third quarter for Kemba sparked yet another Boston run, this time more focused on Jayson Tatum’s offense.

Walker’s big third was part of a big twelve minutes for the team as a whole. The Celtics outscored Houston 38-19 in the third quarter, at one point taking the second-largest lead they’ve had this season.

Williams, who didn’t miss a shot, made sure to emphasize the team’s aggression and passion when talking about the 27-point win.

“I feel like everybody is becoming a little more aggressive, putting a little more emotion into it, and you can see that on the court,” Williams said.

Daniel Theis, who played only six minutes after starting, was told by Brad Stevens postgame that the team would be cutting the rotation down to two centers as the season continues, according to Jared Weiss.

Despite the indication that a three-man rotation with small-ball lineups is in the future, Stevens was impressed with Williams’ performance and potential.

“Rob obviously gives us an upside there that I think we just need to keep building and building and building,” Stevens said.

Brown also spoke on the growth of Williams this season, according to MassLive’s Brian T. Robb.

“He’s been getting better as the season is going,” Brown said.

The win marked the first for the team since the All-Star break. After a period of rest which helped the team get Marcus Smart back, Stevens noticed the team has looked “refreshed.”

“Our energy has been really good the last couple of days,” he said.

Boston looks to continue that energy against the 28-10 Jazz, who have the best record in the NBA. The Celtics return home for an evening tip against Utah pn Tuesday.