Was it wishful thinking or just plain greed? It was foolish of me to think that the Houston Rockets could take down the league-leading Boston Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back on the road.
Although this was a 24 point drubbing, I never got the feeling that this was an abomination or something that was inexcusable. It just felt like this was supposed to be the outcome.
The Celtics were missing their head coach, Joe Mazzulla (Did Not Coach - eye), and both teams wore pins to pay tribute to Stephen Silas’ late father, Paul, who was apart of two Boston championships in the ‘70s. Neither of these coaching stories really determined the outcome however.
In the end, the Celtics won this game off the backs of their two stars combining for nearly 80 points combined. Jayson Tatum finished with 38 and Jaylen Brown went off for 39.
Houston’s backcourt had a solid showing as Kevin Porter Jr. contributed 22 points and 9 assists (WITH ZERO TURNOVERS) and Jalen Green displayed remarkable athleticism on his way to 28 points. However, their contribution could only match just so much of what Boston’s Big 2 input tonight.
Alperen Sengun laid a goose egg at the rim, although he did grab 9 rebounds. Jabari Smith Jr.’s didn’t have much luck either with 6 points and 9 boards, but I wasn’t mad at the looks he got. They’ll go in eventually.
The Rockets reverted back to another poor shooting night as they only connected on 14-for-45 from deep. In fact, this game featured a ton of three point attempts from both sides as the Celtics launched 56 of their own. While 20-for-56 appears better on paper, I’ll note that many of those makes happened down the stretch after Boston had already pulled away.
Houston was able to keep it to a close margin in the first half and beginning of the third quarter due to both teams struggling to find their groove.
An issue I noticed for the Rockets in this game, as it is for most teams in the league, was the presence of Robert Williams III as he patrolled the lane. The box score doesn’t nearly show how much he’s able to alter the opposing team’s shot attempts. He deters people from going towards the basket, but it was nice to see that it didn’t stop JG4 from attacking.
Also of note from this game was that Kenyon Martin Jr. (17 points) started once again in the absence of Eric Gordon. He appears to be the de facto starter whenever someone has a game off. I also enjoyed seeing TyTy Washington Jr. (10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists) get playing time throughout the game. He appears to have a sense of calm to him that can’t easily be shaken and I think that will serve him well as the first guard off the bench.
Unlike most Rockets’ losses, I refuse to sulk after this particular one for whatever reason.
Houston takes on the Dallas Mavericks in their penultimate game of 2022 this Thursday 12/29 at 7:30 PM. Catch you here!