James Harden was outplayed by Isaiah Thomas, and the Rockets struggled to stop anyone on the Celtics, as a sloppy Houston team fell in Boston 120-109 for their second straight defeat and sixth loss in their last nine games.
The Beard finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 12 assists, but he shot just 6-18 from the field and turned the ball over 7 times. Thomas, meanwhile, racked up 38 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists on 15-27 from the floor and routinely abused whoever was guarding him.
Patrick Beverley, James Harden and Corey Brewer all took turns on Thomas, and none of them had an answer for the NBA’s second leading scorer. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Thomas wasn’t their only problem, as they allowed the Celtics to shoot 51.6 percent for the game and also had trouble with Jae Crowder, who finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, and Al Horford, who had 20 points, 9 assists and 2 blocks.
The Rockets were outrebounded by Boston 48-30, and they were absolutely annihilated underneath tonight. The Celtics outscored them 64-48 in points in the paint, and it was Houston’s inability to get any stops in the second half that turned the tide of a previously close game.
In fact, the Rockets finished the first half with a 58-52 behind some solid bench play from Sam Dekker, Brewer and Montrezl Harrell. They all had big second quarters to jump start Houston in Eric Gordon’s absence due to a sore back, and they were the only three Rockets to finish the game with a positive plus-minus.
It was a different story for the Rockets in the second half, however, as they gave up two different 11-0 runs, one in the third quarter and another in the fourth, which was too much for them to overcome.
The Rockets finished the game shooting just 10-31 from beyond the arc, and they also turned the ball over 17 times, looking a little ragged on offense to go along with the leaky defense.
In addition to the Beard’s performance, which also included a flagrant one for this bloody (and accidental) pimp slap of Jonas Jerebko —
James Harden caught Jonas Jerebko across the face and drew blood. pic.twitter.com/XHdFGyDV0v— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) January 26, 2017
— the Rockets also received 19 points and 5 rebounds from Ryan Anderson, who hit 4 of 6 from downtown, and 12 points and another 4 triples, all in the third frame, from Trevor Ariza. Clint Capela put in 12 points as well, while Dekker finished with 15, Harrell 11 and Brewer 7 off the bench to lead Houston.
The Celtics broke a three-game losing streak, while the Rockets fall to 34-15 on the season and, for the first time in a while, are now closer in the standings to the fourth-place L.A. Clippers than to the second-place San Antonio Spurs.
The Rockets get a night off before continuing this east coast swing in Philadelphia on Friday with a match up against the suddenly streaking 76ers and Joel Embiid, who have won 8 out of their last 10. If the Rockets can’t find a way to shore up that interior defense, it could be another long night defensively for our slumping boys in red.
Hopefully, Eric Gordon will be able to return on Friday, as this ailing Houston team will need all hands on deck to get back the chemistry, shooting and defensive intensity from December.