Monday, January 22, 2024

Celtics 116, Rockets 107: Jaylen Brown records triple-double, Kristaps Porzingis drops 32 in Houston

The Celtics bounced back to beat the Houston Rockets for the second time in eight days, with a 116-107 victory at the Toyota Center Sunday night.

Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including going 6-of-11 from deep, plus six rebounds and five blocks.
"Each night, it can be a different guy who has a good game," Porzingis said in his postgame presser. "We have that trust in each other that we're willing to sacrifice to get a guy the ball if he's having a good night, and tonight was my night. We just took advantage of the mismatches."
Derrick White had 21 points, 11 rebounds while Jayson Tatum added 18 points and seven rebounds. Jaylen Brown recorded his third career triple-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to help the C's improve to 33-10 on the season and 13-9 on the road -- after their first home loss (20-1) to the Denver Nuggets Friday.
"Teams are switching on -- and off-ball and pressuring us so the ability to play in the post is something we have to continue to develop for the long-term success of this team," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "I thought [Brown] was great, and he stepped up tonight and played a great game."
Boston was without Jrue Holiday (elbow) and Al Horford (rest) on the first night of a back-to-back.

Dillion Brooks finished with 25 points, while Alperen Sengun also notched a triple-double of 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Jalen Green netted 16 and Amen Thompson chipped in 15 points, 14 rebounds for the Rockets -- who dropped to 20-22.

The Celtics largest margin was 17 points and took a 70-55 advantage into halftime, before Houston used a 14-2 run in the third -- capped off by a Aaron Holiday (12 points, five assists) with 2:25 remaining in the period to get within five (85-80).

Boston responded with a 10-0 spurt and headed into the final frame with a 90-80 lead, but the Rockets wouldn't go away quietly -- scoring 10 of the fourth quarter's first 13 points and trailed by only three (93-90), which would be the closest they'd get the rest of the way.
"We had our chances," Ime Udoka said in his postgame comments. "Our focus and attention to detail was better on certain guys. We did a decent job on Jaylen Brown and Jayson all night -- it was just that the others hurt us, especially offensive rebounds from some of their bigs."
Porzingis sixth 3-pointer of the night put the Celtics up 107-96, as part of a 14-6 run with 3:33 left to play -- handing Ime Udoka his second defeat against the same team he once coached. Houston suffered a 145-113 blowout loss at TD Garden just last week.

In the end, Boston hauled down 17 offensive rebounds -- helping them outscore the Rockets 23-10 in second chance points.
"It's something we've stressed this year, and it's something we've gotten better at," Mazzulla said. "On nights like this, it keeps baskets alive and gives us extra possessions."
The Celtics continue their three-game mini road trip Monday night when they face the Dallas Mavericks (24-18).

Game Notes:

Boston hit 43.9% of their field goal attempts, including 17-of-47 (36.2%) from 3, while the Rockets were 43.6% from the floor and 10-of-35 (28.6%) from long range. The C's out-rebounded the home team 55-49, but were outscored in the paint 60-42. The Celtics dished out 31 assists (16 turnovers) on 43 baskets and Houston had 26 dimes (16 turnovers) on 41 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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