When the Houston Rockets signed Josh Smith after he was waived by the Detroit Pistons in December, the news of the acquisition reverberated throughout the league.
But Celtics coach Brad Stevens said another December deal that was made with less fanfare has also significantly impacted the Rockets, who come to TD Garden Friday night having won four of their last five games.
“I think Corey Brewer is also a great addition, but I very rarely hear anybody talk about that, but I think he is,” Stevens said. “And I think he makes a world of difference, too. He’s very athletic. He’s very agile.”
Brewer was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he has played well since the deal.
The 6-foot-9-inch forward is averaging 11.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 20 games with Houston. His player-efficiency rating — a measure of per-minute production — with the Rockets is 16.4, 33 percent higher than his career average of 12.3. And after turning the ball over an average of 16.2 times per 100 plays in 24 games with Minnesota this year, Brewer has sliced that to 9.7 in the last 20 games.
Stevens said that when he was an assistant at Butler and coached against Brewer at Florida, the Bulldogs tended to rotate off of Brewer and didn’t guard him especially tightly around the perimeter.
“And now I’m watching him shoot the ball, and he’s a good shooter,” Stevens said. “He’s a good shooter.”
Rockets at a glance
■ When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at TD Garden.
■ TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Scoring: James Harden 27.3, Dwight Howard 16.3, Terrence Jones 13.2.
■ Rebounding: Howard 11.0, Jones 7.0, Donatas Motiejunas 6.1.
■ Assists: Harden 6.8, Patrick Beverley 3.3, Trevor Ariza 2.2.
■ Head to head: This is the second of two meetings. The Rockets won, 104-90, at home Nov. 1.
■ Miscellany: Howard has missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle, and an MRI Wednesday revealed a knee problem. He will not travel to Boston . . . Houston has won three in a row and eight of its last 12 . . . Harden leads the league in scoring and has scored at least 30 points in 21 games.