Keys to the Game: Rockets 123, Celtics 120
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
Turnovers – critical ones – were Boston’s kryptonite Saturday night in Houston.
The Celtics played from ahead for the majority of the night as they took on the league’s top team. During crunch time, however, Boston and Houston went back and forth in entertaining fashion.
The turning point of the game arrived when two of Boston’s point guards each committed a turnover just 17 seconds apart during crunch time.
First, Terry Rozier rose high to grab a rebound off of a James Harden miss, but he landed between two Rockets defenders – Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker – who swiped at the ball. Tucker wound up knocking the ball loose from Rozier’s hands, and Paul grabbed the loose ball before finding Trevor Ariza wide-open on the right wing. Ariza let it fly from long range and cashed in on the shot to tie the game up at 115-115 with 1:33 left in the game.
Boston still had plenty of time to pull back ahead and finish off a win, but on the very next possession, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving committed another turnover. After coming off a screen from Al Horford, Irving attempted to drop a left-handed pocket pass off to the big man, who was popping toward the top of the arc after setting his screen. Ariza stuck his right hand out just in time to not only break up the pass, but to pick it off and take it the other way for a driving, left-handed layup.
That basket did not account for the game-winning points, but it did account for the game-winning momentum. Ariza’s two baskets, both of which arrived off of critical turnovers by C’s point guards, gave Houston a two-point edge with 1:16 remaining and the Rockets never relinquished their lead from that moment on.
It’s hard to look anywhere other than to Eric Gordon for Saturday night’s Key Player section. Without him, Houston had no shot of beating Boston.
Gordon was electric from beyond the arc, as he canned seven of his 11 3-pointers en route to a game-high 29 points. Eleven of Gordon’s 13 shots were attempted from 3-point range.
Gordon shot 8-for-13 in the game, good for 61.5 percent from the field. That’s a great mark for a big man; it’s an incredible mark for a player who shot nearly exclusively from long distance.
James Harden stuffed the stat sheet with 26 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, but it was Gordon who carried the Rockets while Harden struggled to impact the game for the majority of the night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston's bench scored a season-high 67 points.
- Each of Boston's four reserves who appeared in the game scored at least 11 points.
- Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 21 points.
- Eric Gordon scored a game-high 29 points.
- James Harden stuffed the stat sheet with 26 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals.
- The Celtics outscored the Rockets by 23 points during Greg Monroe's 19 minutes of playing time. Monroe totaled 18 points and six rebounds during the game.
- Houston outscored Boston 20-2 in fast break points.
- The C's made five more field goals than the Rockets (44-39), but Houston made six more 3s (19-13) and seven more free throws (26-19).
- Harden attempted (13) and made (11) the more free throws in the game.
- The Rockets committed only nine turnovers, while Boston committed only 12.
- Five Celtics shot 100 percent from the free-throw line.
- Clint Capela grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.
- No player on Boston's team grabbed more than six rebounds.
Quote of the Night
We’re all on the same page. When we come in, everybody knows what to do.
Marcus Smart on Boston's bench group.