Friday, January 11, 2013

Rocket Failure: Houston Has A Problem As Launch Scrubbed By Celtics -- 103-91


WOOO HOOO!! That's five!! Five in a row against mostly quality opponents (sorry Phoenix.)!! And, the bench has been a major factor!! And...And...(*******)

Wow...I think I must have blacked out there. Breathe-in.....breathe-out...

Okay, can you NOT be excited about how this team seems to be coming along? I can make like The Count from Sesame Street and start listing all of the things that make me believe that this is a legitimate turnaround, but I could waste an entire post on that and still not talk about what actually happened in this game. So, let me put the monocle away and do this the right way...

The Celtics: riding a four-game winning streak forged against some of the steel of the NBA. The Rockets: coming in having lost the first tilt of their three-game road trip, but still boasting a 21-15 record and wins in 10 of their last 13 games.

With that said, Houston found itself ahead by 9 points early on before the Celtics decided to show them what all the fuss has been about, breaking the game open in the first half off of some seriously heady play by growing rookie phenom Jared Sullinger (I think it's about time I start spelling his name correctly! I mean, the guy had 14 points and 8 boards in the first half alone, for Pistol-Pete's sake!), two emphatic jams by Mean Jeff Green, a pair of letters from Threeland by Jason "The Jet" Terry, and great defense and offense from Courtney Lee, who helped to "hold" (more on this later) James Harden to 24 points for the game. Lee continued his hot shooting, making 5-7 shots for 14 points along with Sullinger, who not only equaled his benchmate's point total, he added 11 physical rebounds to boot. Green scored 9 pointed points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Being no pushovers themselves, however, the Rockets made a run of their own -- a stunning 15-5 run! -- that saw the Celtic lead of 17 points shrivel down to 2 before the cagey veterans, fresh from their evening naps on the bench, came in and ripped off a 15-3 run of their own. During the run, Brandon Bass, who didn't have a particularly memorable night shooting (4 points) or rebounding (3 snags), played strong defense and scored one of the night's most enjoyable baskets flying in for a put-back slam that was, if I may say so, simply Leon Powesque.

As for the "Tired Twosome," "Crinkly Couple," "Degenerating Deuce" or whatever name you haters want to call the Dynamic Duo of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett -- whatevs! -- these two had their "let's show the yung'ns how we do" routine ready to roll from the git with Paul Pierce scoring a team-high 23 points (11 in the 3rd quarter) on 8-14 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal and KG rainbowing and slamming home 17 points on 8-12 shooting with 8 boards and 4 angry blocks.

Shooting the Celtics their Rocket-red glares after the final buzzer were Jeremy Lin, who posted 12 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals (a nearly identical stat line to Rajon Rondo's 12 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals), and budding superstar James Harden, who scored the aforementioned 24 points, but had to take 19 shots to get them (making only 9), most of them with either Avery Bradley, Lee or Pierce riding in his socks. For their efforts, the C's defenders managed to put the kibosh on Harden's 14-game streak in which he's scored 25 or more points in each game.

Last game, the story was really about the Celtics bench, which is starting to perform the way many of us predicted they would at the start of the season, and tonight they showed a similar cohesion with the C's subs outscoring the Rockets' extras by a score of 40-25.

While I am trying to keep the elevator somewhere among the middle floors as I write about this team and the marked improvement it's starting to show, I'm having a hard time trying not to think about the matchup problems that we're going to present to teams down the road as Chris Wilcox returns and Leandro Barbosa gets a little more run.

My favorite moments of the game? How about:

 -- Tommy Heinshon bellowing, "The man plays perfect defense and these officials don't have a clue about what good defense is!!" about a late-game foul called on Bradley.

-- And Green, who showed more liveliness and emotion than I've seen from him in all of this season's games combined exhorting the crowd after one of his thunderous first-half dunks and then later on the sidelines leading the bench in executing the always excellent "hold me up! I might faint!" reaction when KG scored his 17th point in the 4th to make it 98-84 as the C's worked to hold off the rockets.

Oh, and one more thing...

Remember that unheralded guy, Greg Smith, who killed us in the last meeting between these two teams (20 points, 6 rebounds)? Well, the C's held him down to 6 points this time, though he DID manage to grab 8 rebounds. Still, his performance tonight pales in comparison to what he did earlier this month.

Kevin McHale's reaction might just be the funniest thing I've seen from a coach in a while.

Next Up? Those pesky Charlotte Bobcats.

Tale Of The Tape

Box Score


  1. Who is the color guy on that broadcast? Smith could've gotten 2 three-second calls

    1. I don't know who he was, but I'm hoping he was kidding about the "What? I was only in there two seconds," crack. I think I counted 7! He kind of sounded like Rick Fox, but I KNOW he would have had to be joking!