Keys to the Game: Celtics 107, Rockets 97

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Boston’s first win of the season is in the books after it pulled away from the Rockets during the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup in Houston. The Celtics needed only 80 seconds to string together a 10-0 run that gave them all the momentum they needed to enter the winner’s circle.

The majority of the run was logged via three-point plays, both from beyond the arc and via the conventional route. Al Horford ignited the spurt with a made free throw, and 36 seconds later he connected on his first 3-pointer of the season to make it a 4-0 run.

Marcus Smart then got in the act with a conventional and-one off of an assist from backcourt mate Dennis Schroder. Schroder found Smart for the layup after Smart made a beautiful off-ball cut as Schroder drove to the basket and drew multiple defenders. Smart dropped in an up-and-under layup off the glass and through contact, then drilled the free throw to complete the three-point play and make it a 62-55 game.

Jayson Tatum, who was cooking offensively from the opening tip and all night long, completed the run with one of his patented side-step 3s. This one was extra sweet, because he drained it from the left wing in the face of his former teammate and new Rockets center Daniel Theis.

Tatum’s triple gave Boston a 65-55 lead with 8:21 left in the third quarter and forced Houston to call what it hoped was a run-stopping timeout. However, the C’s continued to sizzle the rest of the night and pulled ahead by as many as 20 points before polishing off a 107-97victory for their first win of the season.

Key Player

Grant Williams has let his play do the talking to all of the haters who hounded him last season. He has bounced back early this season in a big way, most notably Sunday night in Houston.

Williams was the most impactful reserve who took the court during Boston’s runaway victory, and he was more impactful than the high majority of the starters as well. He connected on six of his eight shots from the field, including a 5-for-7 effort from long distance, en route to 18 points on the night. He has now scored at least 15 points during two of his three games, and is shooting 69.2 percent from long distance on the season.

The third-year forward also contributed three rebounds and two assists during his 30-plus minutes of action. Boston outscored Houston by eight points while he was on the floor.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 31 points. He also contributed nine rebounds.
  • Boston committed only 11 turnovers in the game, while forcing 18 out of the Rockets.
  • Jalen Green led the Rockets with 30 points.
  • Boston's starters in the backcourt, Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder, each dished out five assists.
  • Al Horford led the game with 10 rebounds and also scored 17 points, grabbed three steals and blocked three shots.
  • Grant Williams shot 5-for-7 from long range and scored 18 points off the bench.
  • Boston limited Houston to just 42.7 percent shooting from the field.
  • Four different Celtics blocked a shot.
  • Schroder scored 18 points.
  • Horford, Marcus Smart and Houston's Alperen Sengun tied for the game high in steals with three apiece.
  • Horford and Houston's Christian Wood each made eight free throws to lead the game.
  • Boston forced Kevin Porter Jr. into eight turnovers.
  • Boston's bench outscored Houston's 31-14

Quote of the Night

Ime Udoka on his first career win as a head coach