Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Rockets 111, Celtics 109: Jaylen Brown scoring 43 was not enough in upset loss to Houston

The Celtics fell to the Houston Rockets 111-109 Monday night at the Toyota Center in one of if not the biggest upset of the season.

Jaylen Brown had a game-high 43 points on 16-of-25 from the field and 4-of-10 from deep, while Jayson Tatum was only 8-of-22 from the floor -- including a missed layup in the final seconds to force overtime -- and 2-of-10 from 3-point range to finish with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four turnovers.

Malcolm Brogdon was the only other Celtic to score in double-figures with 20 points off the bench for Boston -- who are 47-22 and 2.5 games behind the East leading Milwaukee Bucks (49-19).

Jalen Green led the struggling Rockets to their best win of the year with 28 points and seven rebounds. Jabari Smith Jr. had 24 points, 11 rebounds, while Kenyon Martin Jr. added 20 points and Kevin Porter Jr. notched 14 points, 13 assists for Houston.

The Celtics trailed for most of the night, including being down 62-55 at the break -- before the Rockets used a 7-2 spurt to start the third and take a 13-point lead (the largest of the game). Later in the quarter Tatum went on a 8-2 run to cut Boston's deficit to single digits and hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the period to make it 85-80 heading into the final frame.

Back-to-back baskets by Brown and Tatum early in the fourth made it a two-point game, but Houston responded with a 9-2 run to extend their lead with 7:18 left to play.

Boston hit four free throws before getting a three-point play from Brogdon to get within two once again with less than two minutes to go. Jae'Sean Tate was called for a foul on Marcus Smart while Brogdon was at the free throw line. Smart's made free throw cut the Rockets' lead to 106-105.

With the Celtics down 108-105, Brown was fouled on a 3-point attempt, but sank 2-of-3 from the charity stripe, before Smart picked up a foul on Green -- his sixth of the game.

Brown's layup on the other end setup up the final play of the night after Smith Jr. hit 1-of-2 free throws and the Celtics had the ball with 7.1 seconds on the clock, as Tatum drove the lane passing three defenders -- missing the layup as time expired and the Rockets "improving" to a 16-52 record.
"I thought it was a good, well-executed play," C's head coach Joe Mazzulla said during his postgame presser. "Just couldn't make a tough layup."
The Celtics continue their six-game road trip (1-1) in Minnesota on Wednesday night when they take on the Timberwolves (35-34).

Game Notes: 

Boston was 44.8% from the field and 12-of-42 (28.6%)  from 3-point range, while Houston was 44.4% from the floor and 11-of-35 (31.4%) from long distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 48-38 and outscored in the paint 54-50. The C's finished with 19 assists on 39 baskets to the Rockets' 27 dimes on 40 made shots. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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