Ford Keys to the Game: Rockets 92, Celtics 97
Rockets 92, Celtics 97 (Overtime)
Could the Key Moment of this game have happened during a break in the action? On this crazy night, we have to say yes.
Let’s first allow Doc Rivers to describe the craziness that ensued in TD Garden, then we’ll go into what happened during the break heading into overtime.
"That was a crazy game. It really was," Rivers said. "The whole game – it wasn’t even just the ending. I mean, there was just some strange things going on tonight. We give up 28 points in the first quarter, hold them to 12 in the second; we give up 28 points in the third quarter, hold them to 16 in the fourth. We miss a layup, really bobbled the ball – I don’t even know if he ever really…it counts as an attempt – but he just lost sight of the ball. Kevin (Garnett) misses two free throws. Paul (Pierce) dribbles the clock out. You know? It was just one of those games.”
The missed layup that included a bobbled ball came at a critical moment in the game. Already leading by two points, the C’s forced Luis Scola into a missed jumper and Paul Pierce hauled in the rebound. He tossed a quick outlet pass to Rajon Rondo, who was ahead of the pack in the open court and had an easy lane for a fast break layup to seal the game.
Instead of sealing the game, though, Rondo nearly fumbled it away.
As he made his way to the basket for the shot, Rondo lost control of the ball but somehow flung it up toward the basket anyway. The shot, which was more of a ball-slip than an actual shot, bounced off of the rim and into Kyle Lowry’s hands. Houston went on to tie the game on their next possession to send the game to overtime.
Now the Celtics were forced to head into an extra session for the second consecutive game, but this time knowing that their star point guard had already blown the win. That’s not exactly an easy obstacle to overcome heading into an important overtime session, but somehow the Celtics did it.
Instead of sulking at the fact that they didn’t win the game in regulation, the Celtics, and Rondo in particular, concentrated on how they were going to win the game in overtime. They handled the tough play with grace, smiling as they headed into their post-regulation huddle.
That positive attitude carried over into overtime play. Boston scored the first points of overtime with a Ray Allen reverse layup and, after exchanging buckets with the Rockets, Pierce put home a three-point play that put the Celtics ahead by five. The Celtics never trailed in overtime and wound up winning by a score of 97-92.
Tonight’s Key Moment wasn’t a play. Instead, it was a display of will power. There are a lot of teams that would have dropped their heads heading into overtime and been blown out. The Celtics did the opposite, and that’s why they’re heading into Philadelphia tomorrow night with a shot at first place in the Atlantic Division.
Key Box Score Line
The Truth set the Celtics free tonight.
On a night in which Boston didn’t have its best stuff, its captain, Paul Pierce, poured in a game-high 30 points that included seven in the deciding overtime session. Pierce made nine of his 21 field goal attempts – a great shooting performance considering these teams’ shooting percentages tonight – and made 11 of his game-high 12 free throw attempts.
The captain didn’t have an explosive game in other areas of the stat sheet, but he did contribute other solid numbers. Pierce finished with six rebounds, two assists and two steals to go alongside his 30 points.
On top of his on-court production, No. 34 also played the role of energizer. As Doc Rivers alluded to after tonight’s contest, there just wasn’t much energy in the building or in either team. Pierce did his best to change that by consistently pumping up the crowd in the second half and getting in his teammates’ ears during timeouts.
It wasn’t Pierce’s best performance of the season, but in an ugly game in TD Garden, it was far and away the best on this night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Houston's starters combined for 20 personal fouls, which is just one less than the entire Celtics team.
- Paul Pierce scored a game-high 30 points.
- Boston was outrebounded 57-38.
- Kevin Garnett recorded a clean double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds.
- Both teams' largest lead was 10 points.
- Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry combined to shoot just 3-for-14 from 3-point range.
- Rajon Rondo dished out a game-high 12 assists.
- None of Houston's players made more than six field goals.
- Kyle Lowry led the Rockets with seven assists, but he also committed six turnovers.
- Rondo scored nine points in the first quarter and none the rest of the night.
- Houston had six players score in double-figures, compared to just three for the C's.
- This was the second consecutive overtime victory for Boston.
- The Rockets scored just 28 points in the paint.
- Ray Allen scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
- Boston's starters accounted for all of the team's 10 steals, led by three from Rondo.
- Luis Scola and Samuel Dalembert both attempted 11 shots for Houston.
- That duo also combined for 31 rebounds, which was just seven less than Boston's entire team.
- Greg Stiemsma scored eight points off the bench on 4-for-6 shooting, including five jump shots.
Quote of the Night
Rajon Rondo on playing two consecutive overtime games: "It's not exhausting its what we are paid to do. It's our job. It's basketball."