The Boston Celtics rally back from a 26-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets in the final seconds.
After losing a close Christmas day loss to the Oklahoma Thunder, the Houston Rockets (25-8) dropped their fourth straight game, this time to the Boston Celtics (29-10) 99-98, Thursday, at TD Garden in Boston. Despite holding a 26-point lead, it was a tale of two halves as the Rockets came up short in an embarrassing loss.
Despite the ugliness in the final four seconds, the Rockets played some of their best basketball of the season during the first 24 minutes. Houston opened the game on a 12-0 run and annihilated the Celtics firing on all cylinders.
While showing no signs of losing a fourth straight game, the Rockets led the Celtics 32-12 in the first quarter. The same dominance the Rockets showcased in the first, carried into the second quarter.
Houston watched their 20-point first quarter lead increased to 26-point and led 62-38 heading into the break. To completely understand how great the Rockets were in the first half, Eric Gordon (17) and James Harden (17) came just four points shy from tieing the Celtics as a whole for total points.
And it wasn’t just their offense that was clicking either. The Rockets’ defense held the Celtics to the fewest points in a quarter (12) and a half (38) during the first half. However, unfortunately for Houston, games do not end after 24 minutes.
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The Celtics came out and forced the Rockets to commit several turnovers as they watched their lead dwindle down from 26 points to 13. Houston gave up 31 points as Boston came within nine points to start the fourth.
The Rockets struggles in the third quarter could be summed up by the hustle from the Celtics. Boston scored eight points off of turnovers and six on second-chance points.
Behind the physicality of the Celtics, it was more of the same struggles for the Rockets in the fourth.
Although it would be Al Horford‘s hook shot that gave the Celtics their first lead of the game with 3.7 seconds left. It was the defensive play from Marcus Smart that paved the way for the win. Smart drew two offensive fouls on Harden in the closing seconds to help Boston steal a game from Houston.
Despite collapsing in the fourth, Harden ended the game with 34 points and 10 assists, while Gordon finished with 24 points.
Following the loss, the Rockets will take on John Wall and the Washington Wizards, Friday at Capital One Arena.