Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 12/14/12
The Celtics' road trip didn't get off to a good start as they dropped the first game 101-89 to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets got off to a fast start and it looked like the Celtics weren't going to show up at first as they raced out to a 17-4 start. But the Celtics clawed back and finished the half with a 45-43 halftime lead as a 3 by Harden missed at the buzzer. But the third quarter wasn't a good one for the Celtics as their defense stalled and the Rockets picked up the pace and outran the Celtics, finishing the quarter with a 75-70 lead. The Celtics never could recover as the Rockets raced to a 12 point victory. Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) drives to the basket as Boston Celtics' Courtney Lee (11) defends during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Houston. The Rockets beat the Celtics 101-89. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) If I had to pick one reason for the Celtics loss it would be a defensive breakdown. After seeing the team make defensive strides in the games leading up to this one, they took a step backwards. They allowed the Rockets to shoot 48.7%, while shooting only 40% themselves. They couldn't get stops when they needed them and allowed the Rockets to get to the basket seemingly at will in the second half. The Rockets outscored the Celtics 40-32 in the paint. The Rockets also had 25 fast break points to only 11 for the Celtics. The Rockets were led by James Harden with 21 points and Greg Smith added 20 off the bench. The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce with 18 points on 5-18 shooting, which is almost Kobe-esque. He added 7 rebounds and 3 assists as well. Doc played Pierce 40 minutes, which in my opinion is way too much considering he has another big game the next night. After playing 40 minutes in the Celtics double OT game vs Dallas, KG was held to 27 minutes in this game. He scored 14 points to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Rondo finished with 15 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds and a very un-Rondolike 7 turnovers. Courtney Lee started against his former team and scored 8 points to go with 3 rebounds. Jason Terry resumed his 6th man role and finished with 12 points, all from beyond the arc. Brandon Bass had one of his more invisible games with 2 points and 4 rebounds. Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin, center, looks to pass the ball to teammate Chandler Parsons, far left, as Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett, left, defend, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Houston. The Rockets beat the Celtics 101-89. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Jared Sullinger finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds while Chris Wilcox had 4 points and 2 rebounds. Jeff Green had another of his monster dunks in this game but shot just 4-11 for 9 points. It was good to see him more active on the boards, though, pulling down 7 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa had 2 rebounds and 2 assists but failed to score. Overall, the Celtics looked like a team that had just come off of a double overtime game. Their jumpers were mostly short and they played like they were sloshing through water much of the time. One surprising stat is that the Celtics outrebounded the Rockets on the offensive end 9-7 although they lost the overall battle of the boards 45-41. On a day when the world mourned the senseless murder of 20 innocent children, the game was a welcome respite from the grief that had overcome almost everyone during the day. But after the game, Kevin Garnett hugged his former coach and friend, and as KG held Kevin McHale in a tight embrace, no doubt whispering words of encouragement and sympathy in his ear for the loss of his daughter, McHale broke down and left the court in tears. It was a very moving moment and a fitting end to a very difficult day for everyone. Much love and respect always for Kevin McHale and prayers for healing. [Discuss on CG Forums!]
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