Things got interesting Monday night at TD Garden. Hack-a-Howard was put into full motion. Jerryd Bayless took over in the fourth quarter. A major comeback nearly took place.
All of those events took place during the fourth quarter, but all of them were meaningless as Houston held on for a 104-92 victory over Boston.
The Celtics fell behind by as many as 20 points during the contest thanks to a hot start by the Rockets in the second half. Houston led 52-43 at halftime but came out sizzling at the start of the third quarter. The Rockets hit four of their first five shots, including consecutive 3s by James Harden and Chandler Parsons, to build a 62-45 lead.
The teams essentially went back and forth for the remainder of the quarter before Boston made its run in the fourth. Brad Stevens opted to start the group of Jerryd Bayless, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass and Kelly Olynyk in the final period. The C’s trailed by 19 at that point, but that quickly changed.
Bass opened the quarter by scoring six straight points for the Celtics. Bayless then caught fire, scoring 12 points over the course of three minutes and 12 seconds to bring the Celtics back to within 97-90.
Stevens felt the momentum in Boston’s favor, and that’s why he opted to purposely foul Dwight Howard on every Houston possession for nearly three and a half straight minutes. Howard shot 1-of-2 from the line on every trip except one as he shot 6-of-14 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Howard’s struggles allowed the Celtics to get back into the game but Boston couldn’t get over the hump to complete the dramatic comeback. Had the lead not swelled to 20 points early in the third period, Bayless’ hot shooting and Howard’s poor free throw shooting may have returned Boston to the winner’s circle.
Key Box Score Line
It seemed for most of Monday night as if Avery Bradley or Dwight Howard would hold down this spot. Both players excelled from the opening tip and finished with team-high point totals. However, their performances were not as electric as that of Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless, in his first game at TD Garden as a member of the Celtics, was a one-man wrecking crew during the fourth quarter of this game. He single-handedly propelled the Celtics back into contention with his play at both ends and nearly pushed Boston to an incredible comeback victory.
The Celtics trailed by 19 points to start the fourth quarter but as they crept closer, Bayless began to heat up. He wound up scoring 13 consecutive points for Boston from the six-minute mark to the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter. He shot 5-of-6 from the field during that span and hit both of his free throw attempts. Bayless also dished out two assists and grabbed two key steals for Boston as it sliced Houston’s lead all the way down to seven points.
The fourth quarter is when Bayless did the majority of his damage. He scored 15 of his 17 points and dished out two of his four assists during the frame. He finished the night having shot 7-of-13 from the field in 23-plus minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Houston scored an overwhelming 58 points in the paint.
- Eighty of the Rockets' 104 points were scored in the paint or at the free-throw line.
- Avery Bradley scored a team-high 24 points.
- Seven Celtics grabbed at least five rebounds, led by Jared Sullinger's 10.
- Kris Humphries blocked three shots for the third consecutive game.
- The Celtics logged 27 points during the two quarters in which they outscored the Rockets.
- Dwight Howard scored a game-high 32 points.
- Howard attempted as many free throws (18) as James Harden did field goals.
- Jerryd Bayless scored 17 points off the bench for Boston.
- None of Boston's players dished out more than five assists.
- Jeremy Lin tallied a game-high nine assists.
- Boston scored 20 second-chance points thanks to 15 offensive rebounds.
- Bradley attempted a game-high 21 shots, making 11.
- Boston shot just 3-of-17 from 3-point range.
Quote of the Night
I thought we were good early, and I thought we were good late, and in the middle we were dominated, really the better part of the second and third quarter. Brad Stevens on how the game unfoldedMore quotes >>