Rockets soar past Celtics, 101-89

963671.jpg

Rockets soar past Celtics, 101-89

HOUSTON The Boston Celtics are tripped up on the first leg of their Texas two-step by the Houston Rockets who used a strong third quarter surge to take control before handing the C's a 101-89 loss.

The Rockets were led by James Harden's 21 points in addition to Greg Smith chipping in 20 points off the bench. Boston's Paul Pierce had a team-high 18 points while Rajon Rondo tallied 15 points and 13 assists.

Boston (12-10) doesn't have much time to think about what went wrong against the Rockets (11-11), not with a road game at Western conference power San Antonio Saturday night.

Houston for the most part owned the second half of this game, and with it came away with their second straight victory under head coach and former Celtic Kevin McHale who returned to the team recently after the death of his daughter.

The strong play by Boston in the second quarter was wiped out quickly in the third as the Rockets opened the quarter with a 20-9 run to take a 63-54 lead.

A 3-point play by Rondo made it a 63-57 game, but it was clear that the game's momentum had taken a major swing in favor of the home team.

Houston's start was fueled by their ability to score in transition. After tallying a total of 12 fast-break points in the first half, it took less than six minutes for them to register six fast-break points - equal to their average in the first two quarters of play. They would finish the game with 25 fast-break points compared to 11 for Boston.

For too many stretches of play, Boston looked very much like a team that still hadn't quite recovered from a double overtime thriller in defeating Dallas on Wednesday.

Houston is the youngest team in the NBA and looked a step (or two, or three or ) quicker than Boston most of the first quarter.

Even with a lineup change designed to bolster Boston's defense - Courtney Lee in for Jason Terry - the Celtics still had trouble keeping the Rockets from getting out in transition.

Boston tried to go to Kevin Garnett early, but Houston's Omer Asik did a nice job of not allowing Garnett to get too deep in the post while also contesting his perimeter jumpers which heavily factored in Garnett missing five of his first six shots from the field.

Garnett finished with 14 points and five rebounds with a large chunk of his points coming while guarded by Smith.

Houston led by as many as 13 points in the first, but the Celtics chipped away at Houston's lead to cut Boston's lead after the first quarter down to 27-19.

Boston played the Rockets to a near standstill during the first four or five minutes of the second quarter, which isn't a good thing when you're facing the kind of deficit they were looking.

But that soon changed as the Celtics began to string together defensive stops and timely baskets like the wide open corner 3-pointer by Jason Terry to tie the game at 32.

Following another stop, Rondo drove into the lane for a lay-up to give the Celtics their first lead of the game with 6:10 to play in the half.

It was all part of an 18-2 Celtics run in the quarter that eventually ended with Boston leading 45-43 at the half.

Brad Stevens podcast: "Only goal around here is a championship"

celtics_talk-stevens.png

Brad Stevens podcast: "Only goal around here is a championship"

Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine talk with Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens at Celtics Media Day about raised expectations for the upcoming season, how Al Horford will fit, can Isaiah Thomas build off an All-Star season, and how high are his goals. 

Plus, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss whether or not some critiscism could come Stevens' way if the Celtics doesn't perform well in the playoffs.

MORE PODCAST Isaiah Thomas: ‘Just getting to the playoffs in Boston isn’t good enough’

SUBSCRIBE Audioboom | iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher

David Ortiz 'guest edits' this week's Sports Illustrated

si_regional_cover_-_ortiz_designated_editor.jpg

David Ortiz 'guest edits' this week's Sports Illustrated

This week’s Sports Illustrated has been guest-edited by Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who is also featured on the New England regional cover with the headline “Designated Editor: Before He Retires Big Papi Takes Over SI.”

The cover shot is Ortiz stepping out of the dugout at Fenway Park, surrounded by his teammates and fans. In the issue, SI's Tim Verducci has in-depth, candid Q&A with Ortiz on a range of topics in which Big Papi doesn’t shy away from questions about PEDs, his proudest accomplishments and biggest disappointments. 

This is the first time in the magazine's 62-year history that an athlete has guest-edited an issue. Ortiz was able to select the stories, including one on his friend, new Celtics free agent acquisition Al Horford, which explores the brotherhood of Dominican athletes beyond their major league dominance. Ortiz asked SI to look into what’s going on at Patriots headquarters, where his favorite NFL team is off to a 3–0 start. He called for an opus on Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, whose life was tragically cut short last weekend, and who will have a lasting impact on those he touched. Finally, Seth Meyers, host of NBC's Late Night, and writer Michael Schur pay their respects to Ortiz.