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Short-handed Rockets can’t get by Celtics 116-107

The Rockets dropped another one to Boston.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets were missing several starters, including Jabari Smith Jr. and Fred VanVleet, along with reserves Tari Eason and Reggie Bullock, leaving them short-handed against one of the league’s best teams, but they hung tough, particularly in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t get it done against the Boston Celtics, losing 116-107.

The Rockets were down big at one point, but fought back behind the play of Alperen Sengun, Dillon Brooks and Amen Thompson, getting the Rockets all the way back to within three points in the second half, but Houston couldn’t close the deal against the 33-10 Celtics and took an unsurprising L on the second half of a back-to-back.

The Rockets were once again led by Sengun, who finished with a triple double of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on 10-for-18 from the floor. Many of those assists were of the nifty pass variety, with the young big man showing off his full bag.

Brooks finished with 25 points, but was just 5-for-15 from three, but he did also have 5 rebounds and 4 steals on the night, but that was a lot of missed triples from The Villain, even if the team’s injuries were somewhat of a justification for all the gunning.

Amen Thompson looked impressive in his first start of his career, finishing with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists, showing off the all-around athletic game that made him a high pick for Houston. After a slow start to his career, the rookie is starting to come into his own.

Jalen Green was your other double-digit scorer among the starters, finishing with 16 points and 5 assists. He was 7-for-18 from the field, but just 1-for-6 from three. In fact, the Rockets were 10-for-35 overall from deep in the game, continuing a recent trend of terrible three-point shooting for the entire team.

Rookie Cam Whitmore also got the start, but he was mostly ineffective, going just 2-for-7 from the floor for 5 points, 4 rebounds, a steal and a block in 27 minutes of action. It’s a stark reminder of the inconsistencies of rookies and that he needs some more seasoning before becoming a staple in starting the lineup.

Aaron Holiday picked up 12 points and 5 assists in 27 minutes off the bench.

As for the Celtics, they were led by Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 32 points and 5 blocks, as the Rockets continue to be eaten alive by capable big men. Combine that with their poor three-point shooting and it’s obvious that if Houston is looking to be buyers at the deadline and push for play-in spot, another big man and another shooter are both top needs.

The Rockets fall to 20-22 on the season and will be off until Wednesday, when they return against the Portland Trail Blazers for another home game.