Morris shines, but Celtics defense falls short vs Rockets

Morris shines, but Celtics defense falls short vs Rockets

HOUSTON – There is no mistaking that the Boston Celtics missed some shots down the stretch that played a major role in their 123-120 loss to the Houston Rockets. 

But consider this … 

They shot 48.4 percent from the field, connected on 13-of-24 three-point attempts (54.2 percent right there), turned the ball over just 12 times … and they still lost. 


Boston isn’t one to play the blame game, but there’s little doubt that the Celtics defense was indeed a major factor in Saturday’s loss which snapped their four-game winning streak while Houston (49-13) extended its winning streak to 15 in a row. 

“They put you in tough spots,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We had a couple of transition lapses … that just kills you.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 123-120 loss to Houston.



James Harden: When it comes to shooting efficiently, James Harden is not your guy. But impacting the game in a big way? That is who he is all the time. He shot 6-for-18 from the field but tallied 26 points along with 10 assists and five steals along with having a team-best plus/minus of +21.

Eric Gordon: The Rockets super-sub was simply super when it mattered the most – the fourth quarter. He led all players with 29 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter which included him knocking down four of his five, fourth-quarter attempts from 3-point range.

Marcus Morris: For key stretches in the second half when Houston made a surge, often it was Morris’ scoring that continued to keep them at bay. For the game, Morris led all Celtics with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting to go with four rebounds and two steals. 



Trevor Ariza: There were so many hustle plays made by Ariza that in the end, were instrumental in the Rockets rallying for the win. He would finish with 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting with four made 3’s to go with two assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Greg Monroe: Getting his first significant playing time since becoming a Celtic, Greg Monroe was a key performer in keeping Boston in the game. He tallied 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting in addition to grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots along with having a game-high plus/minus of +23.



Kyrie Irving: He had 18 points on 6-for-17 shooting, an unusual shooting line for a player who has been extremely efficient offensively most of this season. At no point did it feel as though Irving was in control of the action, and that would become one of the many factors contributing to the loss. 

Al Horford: Even before Al Horford missed an easy shot about five-feet out in the game’s closing seconds, or the late-game turnover that followed, Horford had a rough night on so many levels. He had 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting but failed to take advantage of the mismatches he seemingly had throughout the game with Houston’s constant switching defensively resulting him often having a smaller defender on him.


NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”