In the closing seconds, the Boston Celtics got exactly what they wanted.
A chance to win, with the ball in their $113 million man’s hands with a game-winning layup in the making.
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Al Horford and the Boston Celtics did everything right except finish the game off as Horford’s game-winning layup rimmed out as time expired which preserved a 107-106 win for Houston.
The potential game-winner came courtesy of Marcus Smart drawing a flagrant-1 foul against James Harden with the Celtics trailing at the time, 107-104.
Smart went to the line and made both free throws to make it a one-point game.
Boston’s Isaiah Thomas missed a potential game-winning layup that went out of bounds off of Harden with 5.3 seconds left.
After the officials reviewed the play to make sure it did in fact go off of Harden, Boston had one more shot to steal the victory … and they came up short.
James Harden made a ton of free throws and as usual, does a nice job of setting his teammates up for easy scores.
But down the stretch, he went back to the 3-point shooting identity of the Houston Rockets which proved to be just enough for the win as his 3-pointer over Smart with 55 seconds to play eventually became the game-winning shot.
For the night, Houston was 12-for-38 on 3s while the Celtics were 11-for-32.
Harden led all scorers with 37 points to go with eight assists, eight rebounds and yes, 10 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Horford had a strong night as well (minus the late-game miss) with 21 points, six rebounds and a game-high nine assists.
The Celtics (12-9) had their five-game road winning streak come to an end while the Rockets (14-8) have now won three straight and eight of their last 10 games.
The loss snapped Boston’s five-game road winning streak.
Boston fell behind by as many as 12 points in the third quarter following a jump-hook shot in the lane by Clint Capela.
The Celtics responded one of their best stretches of play at both ends of the floor, resulting in a 19-2 run that put Boston ahead 72-67 following a jumper by Horford.
Houston went on a mini-spurt by scoring five of the game’s next seven points which brought them within 74-72 when Brad Stevens called a time-out with 4:39 to play in the third quarter.
Boston continued to lock down defensively while getting some timely baskets which was good enough for them to take an 83-77 lead into the fourth quarter.