Celtics caught off guard by Rockets, 108-102


Celtics caught off guard by Rockets, 108-102

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The Houston Rockets continue to do what few teams have been able to do consistently - win in Boston.

The Rockets, fueled by the hot-shooting of their starting backcourt, handed the Celtics a 108-102 loss Monday night at TD Garden.

Boston (28-9) has now lost two in a row, and continued a trend of losing to the Rockets at home.

Houston, led by guards Aaron Brooks (game-high 24 points) and Kyle Lowry (17 points, 8 assists), defeated Boston for the third straight time at the Garden.

But history had nothing to do with what went wrong for the Celtics on Monday.

"I told our guys, I thought overall it was probably our worst defensive effort in three, four years as far as overall effort," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

It wasn't so much that Houston was making so many shots.

More to Rivers' point, it was the fact that those baskets came with little to no resistance by the Celtics.

"We're a defensive-minded group and for some reason over the last couple games, it's just not happening," said Paul Pierce. "I don't know. I mean, everyone's got to look themselves in the mirror, check their selves at the door and just figure this out, get through this little skid we're on."

Houston began to pull away in the second half as it connected on 21 of their 34 shot attempts, or 61.8 percent.

Following the game, the Celtics locker room was like a ghost town with few players sticking around to explain what happened.

Truth be told, they didn't need to.

The numbers don't lie.

Houston got whatever shot it wanted, with very little fight from the Celtics.

When the Rockets missed, they grabbed rebounds.

It was a thorough beating, for sure.

The disappointment could be spread across the entire Celtics roster, but Rivers was especially down on the play of his starters.

"It's on the starters; it's not on the second unit," Rivers said.

Ray Allen agreed.

"We the starters gave the Rockets too much confidence early," Allen said.

At halftime, Rivers reminded his starters that with key players such as Delonte West (right wrist), Kevin Garnett (right calf strain) and Kendrick Perkins (right knee) still out, it's imperative that they play well in order for the second unit to have a shot at success.

"It shouldn't be the other way around," Rivers said. "And so, just a really disappointing game for us."

Using the fact that the Celtics were short-handed is an excuse that Rivers and his players aren't willing to put out there.

It's not like the Rockets haven't had their share of major injuries to deal with.

In addition to not having Yao Ming, the Rockets were also without leading scorer Kevin Martin (wrist) and Brad Miller (knee) on Monday.

"We need to really take advantage of games where their best player isn't playing, guys coming off injury," Pierce said.

As poorly as the Celtics played for most of the night, they still seemed to have a fighter's chance in the game's closing moments.

The C's fell behind by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but found themselves within 106-102 with 18.5 seconds to play when Rajon Rondo forced an eight-second backcourt violation ... or so we thought.

The officials got together briefly, and said that an inadvertent whistle was blown, and it was Houston's ball.

That would be the last gasp the C's had at stealing a game that, frankly, they didn't play well enough to win.

To say that it was just one of those games, is to diminish the potential rippling effect that losing to sub-.500 team at home, can have on this team.

And to blame it on not having Kevin Garnett?

That's letting these guys off the hook way too easy.

"It's mental," Rivers said. "This game had nothing to do with Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett didn't play, and it had nothing to do with it."
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twittter.comsherrodbcsn.

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery


Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”