Celtics-Rockets Takeaways: Too much firepower from Harden, Westbrook against C's

Celtics-Rockets Takeaways: Too much firepower from Harden, Westbrook against C's

HOUSTON -- Jaylen Brown went down with another ankle injury with 3:33 to play. 

A simple pass to Jayson Tatum from Marcus Smart was too far ahead of Tatum to save before he stepped out of bounds. 

Houston Rockets star James Harden was fouled (again) while attempting a 3-pointer moments later. 

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It was that kind of game down the stretch for the Boston Celtics, whose seven-game winning streak is a thing of the past after a 116-105 loss to the Rockets on Tuesday night. 

Boston could not handle Houston’s 1-2 punch of Harden (42) and Russell Westbrook (36), who combined for 78 points.

Still, more than the points was the efficient manner in which two of the league’s most dynamic scorers generated offense.

The ending was a far cry from how the Celtics fought back one Houston surge after another most of the night to stay within striking distance. 

Harden, playing with five fouls for most of the fourth quarter, lost the ball into the hands of Kemba Walker and the Celtics made him pay with a Tatum dunk that made it a 96-94 game with 5:40 to play. 

Then, out of the Houston timeout, the Rockets got the ball back in the hands of Harden, who went to the free-throw line after officials whistled a foul on Jaylen Brown, who was guarding Harden as he attempted a 3-pointer.

Houston continued to pull away and Celtics coach Brad Stevens emptied the bench with the about two minutes left and Boston trailing, 113-98. 


Tatum is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, stringing together one big-time performance after another for the Celtics.

That’s not what the Celtics got out of him on Tuesday. He delivered a good-but-not-great performance against the Rockets. 

Harden was dominant as always until Tatum forced him into defending him, which led to some serious foul trouble for Harden who picked up his fifth foul with 7:43 to play. 

But Tatum was unable to lift the team from their offensive doldrums down the stretch as we have seen him do quite a bit lately. 

While you love the fact that he’s impacting the game in several areas more often, these are the games when Tatum has to play like an All-Star. 

And for far too many stretches against Houston, that didn’t happen. 

He finished with a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds while dishing out four assists. 


Westbrook has been on quite the scoring roll lately, but don’t get it twisted. 

Harden remains the ultimate matchup nightmare for teams and he proved as much Tuesday in a pivotal third quarter. 

Harden finished with a game-high 42 points, including 19 in a row in a third-quarter stretch which was huge in the Rockets overcoming a two-point halftime deficit to take a seven-point lead into the fourth.

That kind of offensive capability is why whoever the Rockets face in the playoffs, or whoever thinks Houston’s small-ball lineup won’t work, can never be comfortable with Harden in the building. 

He’s too talented, too lethal a scorer for an opponent to feel comfortable with a lead.


For a number of stretches on Tuesday, Gordon Hayward was the catalyst that kept the Celtics afloat when points were hard to come by.

He had a team-high 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and six assists. 

It was the kind of performance Boston needed Hayward to deliver. 

Still, there was just one problem.

He didn’t get much help from the rest of Boston’s core. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Clippers-Celtics, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Report: NBA to launch 16-team 2K tournament

Report: NBA to launch 16-team 2K tournament

It looks like Esports' time to shine is finally here.

With all the major sports leagues on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has come up with a creative solution to create some new basketball-based programming.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the league will be hosting a players-only NBA 2K tournament beginning Friday that will air on a major network. Haynes is reporting that the tournament will feature 16 NBA players and will take place over the course of 10 days.

This is a good way for the league to create some new basketball-related excitement with the season currently suspended. It will certainly be fun to see how players who are so good on the basketball court can fare in the realm of basketball video games.

It's unclear if a member of the Boston Celtics will be involved in the tournament, but it certainly is possible. The ideal Celtic to be featured would be Gordon Hayward, as he's an avid gamer and would almost certainly be able to lead the 2K Celtics to some victories.

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If Hayward isn't the choice, Grant Williams would be another logical option. He disclosed to NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely that he loves playing video games on an episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast shortly after he was drafted.

No matter what, it will be entertaining to watch NBA players square off against each other again, even if no Celtics are involved in the 2K tournament.

Speaking of 2K action, be sure to check out our latest Celtics simulation. The 2K-C's took on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night as they looked to keep their winning streak alive.

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

We know that Jayson Tatum is on the path to NBA stardom. But is he on a similar pace to one of the greatest players ever to play the game, Michael Jordan?

You be the judge.

Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf) checked out the statistical comparison between Jayson Tatum and Michael Jordan during their 21-year-old seasons. And when looking at the numbers on a per 36-minute basis, they were relatively close in most major categories.

In addition to the numbers pictured, Tatum averaged 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 as a 21-year-old. Meanwhile, Jordan got 5.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks per 36.

So, Jordan edged Tatum in most categories, save for Tatum's rebounding advantage and his ever-so-slight blocks advantage. Of course, it's worth noting that Jordan entered the league as a 21-year-old rookie, so he had no NBA experience while he put up these excellent numbers. Tatum had 143 games of regular-season experience and 19 games of playoff experience before his 21st birthday.

Regardless, the point is that Tatum is still developing very well and the fact that his numbers can even be comparable to one of the NBA's all-time greats is an excellent sign. He should continue to progress and should soon be one of the top players in the NBA if he continues on his current trajectory.

Tatum may not reach Jordan level. Few ever do. But the stats indicate that he's on the right track very early on in his career.

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