Celtics 103, Rockets 91

Celtics extend streak, beating Rockets

Celtics point guard Avery Bradley and Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden grappled for the ball Firday night.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Celtics point guard Avery Bradley and Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden grappled for the ball Firday night.

Final, Celtics win, 103-91: Paul Pierce (23 points) and Kevin Garnett (17 points) led the Celtics in scoring, but they again got a strong effort from Green, Lee and Sullinger off the bench. The Celtics showed something new in this game, earning a win against a team that thrives off speed and transition buckets. Doc Rivers called his guys old and slow on the road trip, but there was none of that on Friday night. The Celtics will host the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.

Fourth quarter, 5:51, Celtics lead, 92-82: The Rockets went on a 12-0 run thanks to a pair of transition buckets as the Celtics had to get their routine laziness out of the way. Pierce hit a jumper, then stole a pass from Harden and raced down the floor for a lay up, and one, to give Boston the momentum back.

Fourth quarter, Celtics lead, 83-74: Garnet has all five of Boston’s points this half. Sullinger exited the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but it’s worth wondering whether or not Doc Rivers goes back to him if the Rockets pull closer. Brandon Bass is struggling, with three fouls, one turnover and no points.


End of third quarter, Celtics lead, 78-66: A pretty steady game all-around so far for the Celtics, who have won every quarter by at least three points. The second unit continues to make contributions with 50 points compared to 38 from the starters.

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Third quarter, 3:48, Celtics lead, 72-58: The Celtics are doing a better job containing Harden, who has just two points in the second half. Jeremy Lin is keeping the Rockets in this game with transition buckets and pesky defense, holding Rondo to eight points while turning the ball over three times.

Third quarter, 9:15, Celtics lead, 64-47: The truth comes out. Pierce steps up to the 3-point line and casually knocks one down. Then another. Then hits a 10-foot jumper.

Halftime, Celtics lead, 53-45: Sullinger rebound, Sullinger bucket. Rinse. Repeat. Sullinger finished the first half two rebounds shy of a double-double, scoring 14 points and hauling in eight rebounds, turning the ball over just once. Green and Lee made solid contributions from the bench. Stat of the half: Bradley is scoreless on three shots and has a negative-12 plus/minus while he’s on the floor. Harden has 13 points and is on his way to his 15th straight game with at least 25 points.

Second quarter, 5:07, Celtics lead, 43-33: The fast-paced, transition offense was supposed to be the Rockets’ thing, but Lee and Green have been racing up and down the court. Green with a couple monster dunks again tonight. The Rockets have been getting points with quick ball movement though, and the Celtics will have to tighten that up defensively.


Second quarter, 8:29, Celtics lead, 32-25: Green hits a jumper. Sullinger takes a bad pass from Jason Terry and knocks down a fade-away. Terry dives to save a loose ball and Lee puts away a lay-up. Sensing a theme here? Celtics bench: 20. Celtics starters: 12.

End of first quarter, Celtics lead, 24-21: The Rockets took a 17-8 lead. And then Sullinger, Lee and Green entered. Lee and Green hit a pair of 3-pointers. Sullinger is not only rebounding, but setting up the offense with his movement and ball screens.

First quarter, 3:22, Rockets lead, 17-12: Bradley and Paul Pierce go to the bench with two fouls a piece already. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green take their spots. Jared Sullinger already gave the Celtics a jolt off the bench. Rondo has looked rattled thus far.

First quarter, 6:17, Rockets lead, 11-8: The James Harden-Avery Bradley matchup is surely one to watch, but don’t lose sight of Jeremy Lin. Rajon Rondo was out-hustled by Line twice down the floor on transition, including one that resulted in an easy bucket for Lin.

The Celtics look to extend their season-high four-game winning streak against Jeremy Lin, James Harden and the NBA’s best offense.