Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics face uphill climb vs. Rockets

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics face uphill climb vs. Rockets

BOSTON – Even while playing a more physical brand of basketball and doing a better job defensively, the Boston Celtics still found themselves in an uphill climb most of Wednesday night against Houston which led the Celtics 58-52 at the half.

After falling behind by double digits, the Celtics were within 52-49 following a Jae Crowder lay-up.

But that would be as close as the Celtics would get for the remainder of the quarter as Houston seemingly closed it out with a 6-0 spurt only for Al Horford to hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.  

The Celtics stayed within striking distance throughout the first half, and led by as many as four points (16-12) following a 3-pointer by Jonas Jerebko who got the start in place of Amir Johnson.

That wasn’t the only tinkering head coach Brad Stevens did with the first unit which included rookie Jaylen Brown who was in for Marcus Smart.

Houston scored five of the last seven points of the first which put them ahead 27-24 after one period of play.

Boston spent most of the second quarter trailing, but stayed within one possession for a good chunk of the second.

A 3-point play by Patrick Beverley was part of a 9-1 spurt by the Rockets that put them ahead 40-33 following a dunk by Sam Dekker with just under eight minutes to play in the first half.

Houston would lead by as many as 11 points, but give the Celtics credit.

The memo about being more physical was definitely read by most of the team as they consistently put the Rockets at the free throw line instead of doing what they’ve done in recent games which is to allow easy lay-ups.

It created a foul situation in which a couple of players, Jerebko and Jaylen Brown, each had four personal fouls in the first half. The only Rocket player with any semblance of foul trouble was Patrick Beverley who had three.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of play.



Isaiah Thomas

Points just seem to come so easy for Thomas, even though we all know that’s not the case. He had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting along with two assists.

James Harden

He’s not just an MVP candidate in name only. Harden is as dominant a scorer as we have in the NBA currently. And he can do it in lots of ways, evident by him tallying 12 points despite shooting 2-for-9 from the field.



Ryan Anderson

He got the game’s first two points with a pair of free throws, and proved to be a steady contributor for the rest of the half. He finished with 11 first-half points.

Jonas Jerebko

He has been-there, done-that when it comes to getting an in-season start. And like he’s done in the past, Jerebko made the most of his opportunity. He had seven points and six rebounds in the first half.

Sam Dekker

He had 11 points in 12 minutes off the Houston bench while logging 12 minutes. 



Jaylen Brown

Making a rare start for the Celtics, Brown struggled to score as well as defend without fouling. He had two points in the first half while missing three of his four shot attempts. And making matters worse, Brown had four personal fouls in only 13 minutes.

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Beating one of the few teams already eliminated from the playoff race is in itself not that big a deal.

It’s called doing what you’re supposed to do.

But for these Celtics, their 92-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night was more than just another victory.

It was the latest installment in a season filled with teachable moments and lessons that can bolster in some fashion their chances at a deep playoff run.

While there’s no way they’re going to go far without their core guys Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, getting guys to fill in for them and still manage to win, is important in this team’s overall development in both the present and future.

No one on the Celtics’ roster can score like Irving, the league’s 11th-ranked scorer at 24.4 points per game.

Still, getting his fill-ins Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin to go for 17 and 10 points certainly helps.

And Jaylen Brown’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level is huge, but rookie Abdel Nader has shown he too has some potential to be a solid two-way talent.

Smart’s defense sets him apart from others, but the Celtics collectively were able to make up for that with an impressive defensive rating of 83.1 against the Orlando.

And their collective efforts serve as yet another teachable moment for the Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might lead one to believe: 

There may not be another Celtic whose stock has risen more than Terry Rozier’s this season. He has become a reliable two-way talent off the bench whose capable of giving you starter-like production when needed. He had 17 points against the Magic along with seven rebounds and five assists.

With Marcus Smart (right thumb) out for the rest of the regular season, Terry Rozier in the starting lineup along with Marcus Morris, those are three really big chunks of Boston’s second unit no longer coming off the bench. The second unit players might have been different, but that didn’t affect the Celtics’ bench from impacting the game in a significant way. Against the Magic, they outscored Orlando’s backups, 39-28. 

He signed with the Boston Celtics at a time when a role for him was far from defined. His patience and Boston’s faith in him has paid for both as Larkin continues to be that utility player that Brad Stevens has leaned on at times. Larkin was solid off the bench, scoring 10 points.

This may be one of the closest Coach of the Year votes we have ever had in the NBA. Regardless how short the list may be, you can bet Brad Stevens will be on it. The way he has been positioning the Celtics to be among the last teams standing despite all the injuries they have endured this season, speaks to his ability to not just draw up X's and O’s but also his ability to develop players who when called upon to play, are more than ready for the challenge.

It’s fair to expect the Celtics are going to be short-handed for the rest of the season, which means those still around have to step their game up – Horford included.

For Horford, stepping up involves being more assertive as a scorer and not rely as much on his skills as a play-maker. We saw that from Horford on Friday, as he tallied a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds but more important, he took a game-high 18 shot attempts.


'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

AP Photo

'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

Former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was arrested last month in a hotel room in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more than 126 grams of marijuana and more than $92,000 in cash.

Davis, 32, who played on the Celtics 2008 championship team was last in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, was arrested Feb. 7 after the hotel owner at the Aberdeen Hampton Inn smelled marijuana coming from Davis' room, WMAR-TV in Baltimore reported.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lt. William Reiber told WMAR. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis is charged with seven counts of drug possession and distribution.

Police said the strains of marijuana were from a Los Angeles wholesaler that court records show Davis told police he was in business with.

He told officers he was visiting family in Maryland. Davis' attorney told WMAR the former Celtic (2007-11) adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court next month to clear his name.