Sunday, January 14, 2024

Celtics 145, Rockets 113: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum lead bounce back win to remain unbeaten at home

The Celtics bounced back in a huge way to beat the Houston Rockets 145-113 Saturday night at TD Garden and improved to 19-0 on their home parquet.

Jaylen Brown had a game-high 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range to go along with six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes of action. Jayson Tatum had 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists, before getting ejected with 10:17 left to play and the C's up 27 points.
"I'm a pretty self-aware person. I understand the time and score of the game," Tatum said his postgame comments after back-to-back technical fouls. "The game was pretty much over. I've got to stand up for myself."
Payton Pritchard scored 19 points, Kristaps Porzingis added 17, five assists and Derrick White chipped in 13 points, five assists for Boston -- who are a league-best 30-9.

Coming off a 33-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday -- the worst of the season, the Celtics extended their home win-streak to 26 straight regular-season games dating back to March of last year.
"Last game we didn't feel like we were at our best," Brown said in his postgame presser. "Today we wanted to come out and make sure we stayed undefeated tonight on our home court."
It was also the return of ex-Celtics head coach Ime Udoka for the first time in Boston since being suspended for the entire 2022-23 campaign and then eventually let go, while Joe Mazzulla became the interim then officially the head coach.
"I'm glad to see Ime back, coaching on the sideline," said Brown of his former coach. "I wish those guys the best of luck."
Cam Whitmore led Houston with 22 points off the bench while Alperen Sengun recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds. Dillion Brooks netted 12 points and Amen Thompson contributed with 10 points, 10 rebounds for the Rockets -- who fell to 19-19 on the season.

The Celtics led 51-50 with 5:45 left in the second quarter, before they went on a 18-6 run to finish the first half and take a 69-58 advantage into the break.

Boston pushed the deficit to 27 in the third quarter and even after Tatum was thrown out to start the final frame, the Rockets trailed by as many as 36, with Mazzulla going deep into his bench and clinch the victory.

For Tatum, he picked up his first technical foul for complaining on a non-call after his arm was hit on a dunk attempt and the Celtics ahead 117-90. He continued to complain while Houston shot the their free throw and was assessed his second technical and tossed out of the game. The All-Star forward had some choice words for referee CJ Washington, while pointing at him as he walked off the court.
"I was frustrated," Tatum explained. "At some point throughout the course of the night, you've got to stand up for yourself. This is not an every game thing or every night. Tonight I just kind of had to let him know how I felt."
The Celtics head north of the border to face the new-look Toronto Raptors (15-24) Monday night.

Game Notes:

Boston was 53.7% from the field, including 24-of-47 (51.1%) from 3-point range, while the Rockets hit 40.4% from the floor and 7-of-30 (23.3%) from long distance. Both teams grabbed 50 rebounds respectively, but the C's were outscored in the paint 54-38. The Celtics dished out 26 assists (12 turnovers) on 51 baskets to Houston's 20 dimes (13 turnovers) on 40 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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