Al Horford missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer. Moments earlier, Isaiah Thomas missed a lay-up that was challenging but should have been made.
As much as those plays hurt Boston in its 107-106 loss at Houston, there were a series of gaffes prior to that which proved to be just as impactful on the game’s outcome.
- Highlights: Houston Rockets 107, Boston Celtics 106
- Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'
- Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'
- Horford misses game-winning layup, Celtics lose heartbreaker to Rockets, 107-106
Boston led 96-88 in the fourth quarter but Houston rallied with a 14-6 spurt.
When asked about what the Rockets did to get going, Celtics Jae Crowder said there was confusion among the five players on the floor.
“We had confusion on a couple of play calls,” Crowder told reporters after the loss. “That’s on us. Three guys on the same page, two guys doing something differently. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing.
Crowder added, “all five guys on the court have to be on the same page and we weren’t. That turned into turnovers and points on the other end. That’s how they got back into it.”
Monday night’s loss serves as a reminder of while the Celtics are improving, there’s plenty of room to grow when it comes to late game execution.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Crowder said. “We have to keep working at it. We can’t have that situation kill us at the end of the game. Missed shots, that’s OK. But miscommunication and turnovers, we can’t have.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday night’s game.
The “beard” once again chopped down the competition with a dominant performance. He led all scorers with 37 points to go with eight rebounds, eight rebounds and finished with a not-so-great double-double of points scored and turnovers (10).
Missing the game-winning lay-up summed up the kind of night it was for Horford who still managed to finish with 21 points and a game-high nine assists with six rebounds and two blocked shots.
When Harden went to the bench, Gordon did a nice job of keeping the offense flowing for the Rockets. He would finish with 19 points off the bench on 6-for-11 shooting with four 3-pointers.
He finished with 20 points but like Horford, he too missed a lay-up in the closing seconds that could have potentially won the game for Boston.
It was a quiet but effective night for Ariza who had 15 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
They have been a much-maligned group for most of this season, but they kept this game from getting out of hand in the first half with strong play from Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier (seven points each), and got strong plays at both ends of the floor from Marcus Smart (13 points).
He was replaced in the starting lineup by Jonas Jerebko, and was just as ineffective coming off the bench. He was scoreless in less than five minutes of playing time, committing as many fouls (2) as grabbed rebounds (2). It remains to be seen whether he will be in the starting lineup when the Celtics play at Orlando on Wednesday.