Celtics win wild one in OT, 97-92 over Rockets

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Celtics win wild one in OT, 97-92 over Rockets

BOSTON Courtesy of a last-second gaffe in regulation, the Boston Celtics needed a few extra minutes to finally put away the pesky Houston Rockets, 97-92, in overtime.

The Celtics (20-17) seemingly had the game put away with an 84-82 lead with less than 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Houston's Luis Scola's shot was off the mark, Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and tossed it down court to Rajon Rondo who had nothing between him and the rim but air.

And then . . . he missed the lay-up.

Houston made the most of its late- game reprieve, as Goran Dragic tied the game with a long jumper with three seconds to play.

Boston had a chance to win it in regulation, but Ray Allen's off-balance jumper rimmed in and out as time expired.

In the overtime period, the Celtics led by as many as five points but committed more end-of-the-game mistakes that gave the Rockets life.

Kevin Garnett, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds, missed a pair of free throws in the final minute.

And after Houston's Kyle Lowry missed a running shot in the lane, Paul Pierce was called for an eight-second violation courtesy of some tight defense by Courtney Lee.

But another missed shot by the Rockets resulted in another rebound for the Celtics.

Moments later, the ball found its way into the hands of Ray Allen who put the game away with a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining.

The two went back and fourth in the first half, but Boston began to pull away in the third and led, 57-47, after Paul Pierce made a pair of free throws with 7:58 to play in the quarter. However, Houston responded with a 21-6 run to close out the quarter.

HOT SHOT: Paul Pierce goes off for a game-high 30 points which included seven of Boston's 13 points in overtime. For Pierce, it was the second straight game he has scored at least 30 points. Pierce made no secret about wanting to take over down the stretch. "I was, especially in the fourth quarter, trying to give us some life with the crowd and everything," he said.

IN-N-OUT: Kyle Lowry shared team-high scoring honors with 18 points, but he shot 4-for-17 in doing so. In addition to the poor shooting, he also turned the ball over six times.

SUPER SUB: Boston rookie Greg Stiemsma is not in the regular rotation, but that hasn't stopped him from being ready when called upon. With Brandon Bass re-aggravating an ankle injury from Sunday against the New York Knicks, coupled with Chris Wilcox being in foul trouble, Stiemsma was on the floor for 13 minutes and produced in a big way with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

TURNING POINT: Leading 95-92 with 30.3 seconds to play in overtime, the Houston Rockets were looking to tie the game after Paul Pierce turned the ball over on an eight-second violation. Kyle Lowry pass was stolen by Pierce with 24.9 seconds to play. The ball wound up in the hands of Ray Allen soon afterward. Allen made a pair of free throws with 18 seconds to play that would be the game's final points scored.
BY THE NUMBERS: 79: That would be the number of minutes played by Kevin Garnett in Boston's last two games, way more than the C's would like to see him play this season.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We're starting to play good basketball and we're starting to win basketball games when we don't play good basketball, and that may be more important." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

After Boston’s last game against Portland – a loss – Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he was encouraged by some of the things his team did defensively.

It’s safe to say Stevens won’t be singing that tone if the Celtics continue along the path they’re on defensively right now as the Washington Wizards went into the half with a 66-59 lead.

Washington, donning all-black clothes when they arrived at the Verizon Center, were very much looking as though they were digging a basketball grave for the Boston Celtics who allowed the Wizards to shoot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field in the first half and 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.

The Wizards scored the first four points of the game and spent all of the first half playing with a lead.

But the Celtics showed some fight late in the second quarter, going on a 14-6 run to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with 3:39 to play in the quarter.

Boston would later have a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Smart’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

And the Wizards, as they had done all game, made the Celtics pay as Bradley Beal drained a jumper that made it a two-possession game.

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Bradley Beal

It was his idea to go with the all-Black look, and he backed up his talk with a strong first half of play. He has a team-high 14 points at the half along with five assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas delivered yet another all-star caliber scoring performance in the first half for Boston. He led all scorers with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with a game-high eight assists.  

John Wall

After scoring just nine points when these two met on Jan. 11, Wall has 13 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was an extremely efficient game offensively in the first half for Horford. He had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists.

Markieff Morris

He’s one of four double-digit scorers in the first half for the Wizards. In addition to his 10 points, he also has five rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

At this end of the floor, the Celtics were absolutely atrocious in the first half. The Wizards shot a ridiculously high 65 percent from the field, and were just as lethal (8-for-13, 61.5 percent) from 3-point land. They have no shot at competing let alone winning tonight’s game, if they don’t turn things around and do so soon!

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.