The Houston Rockets returned to Toyota Center Monday, following a 4-1 road trip, highlighted by a 20 win vs. the Golden State Warriors. After three days of rest following their 5-game getaway, Houston looked to keep the ball rolling.
Monday night they faced the Boston Celtics in the first of their two games home before going back on the road. As usual, Houston got out to a hot start in the first, scoring 26 points as a team, hitting 4 3-pointers as well. The Rockets took a 17-26 lead after 1 and would hold that lead until the 3rd quarter. After the half, Boston outscored Houston 35-19 in the third. Countless fast break points can be attributed to many turnovers committed by the Rockets in a lackluster 12 minute performance.
In the 4th however, the Rockets battled back late, retaking the lead with just over 3 minutes left. A back and forth battle between the two teams was highlighted with a controversial flagrant call on James Harden for elbowing Marcus Smart in the face. Smart, who has had a history with flopping, sunk both free throws to give Boston hope, trailing by a single point, 106-107. With seconds left, Al Horford missed the game winning layup, sealing the deal and giving the Rockets their 3rd straight.
Harden finished with 37 Points on 8-14 shooting, with 8 AST and 8 REB. The Rockets also kept their NBA record alive with another ’10+ 3PM game’. After the game, James was asked whether he felt he was fouled before the incidental contact with Smart.
“Yeah, but it’s OK, I shouldn’t have thrown an elbow. It is what it is, refs made a good call. Lucky we came away with the win.”
The win puts the Rockets at 8-2 over their last 10 contests and 14-7 overall.