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.