Celtics Lackluster Effort on the Glass Leads to 13-Point Loss in Houston; Harden Capitalizes with 45
James Harden led the Houston Rockets to a convincing 14-point victory over the Boston Celtics, Thursday night. Harden dropped 45 points while connecting on nine 3-point field goals.
Never could we receive a more perfect visual representation that proves just how valuable Aaron Baynes is to this team then last night in Houston. With Baynes out (hand) and Al Horford handicapped with limit restrictions, the C's were in for a challenge. However they didn't do justice to their own situation with their own lackluster effort on the boards and protecting the glass. Don't let the final score deceive you. The Celtics were as undeserving as could be to walk out of Houston with a victory last night- and James Harden knew it, and made sure they left with the loss they entered the Toyota Center asking for.
Now believe me I know just how valuable Aaron Baynes production is, playing the inside game and giving Brad Stevens some surprising outside shot production from time to time. The man knows his role, limitations and gives what he can with what he has to work with. He's sort've like Marcus Smart in the sense that stats don't do justice by what he brings to the table. Baynes delivers a fearful inside presence and fire-back at whatever big men the opposing team has to offer. However despite his absence in Houston last night, that game was completely inexcusable!
James Harden has been as hot as a fox in a forrest fire as of late. Scoring 45 points with 6 assists on 11/26 shooting from the field and 9/18 from beyond the arc. He knocked down five three's in his 17-point first quarter; making all Celtics fans roll their eyes. We knew at the point what kind of night we were in for. Harden's owned the floor for the past 6 straight games completely in which he's scored 35+ points. That accomplishment puts Harden in elite conversation with only three other players having done so in the past 20 years. Kobe Bryant (2002-2003), LeBron James (2005-2006), and Carmelo Anthony (2012-2013). Harden's made it clear that he's among the most unstoppable that the league has to offer today, making his run for league MVP.
Yet despite his dominance from the offensive end last night, the Celtics could've very much so pulled away with a win in spite of Harden's 45. To begin, Boston effort on the glass last night was absolutely horrid to just watch. The Celtics got out-rebounded... and badly! 54-38 to be statistically correct and 16-7 on the offensive glass. Boston got outscored on second chance opportunities 18-8; which isn't really a surprise considering the lack of effort they showed all night long. They lacked energy and overall intention to make a run at getting their hands on the ball and away from Houston. They proved that they could remain in the game throughout and overall fair three quarters of play. Early on Houston lit the fuse and rallied to take a 17-point lead in the 2nd quarter which Boston quickly eliminated. However as they say- karma always catches up. Well that was the case for the Celtics in fourth who's poor rebounding play, caught up to them when it mattered the most.
Marcus Morris came through big yet again for the Celtics. Continuing to be one of the few shinning lights in an overall dull tunnel of a season it's been thus far. Morris scored 19 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and shot 6/11 from the field last night. A night that would unfortunately get cut short as due to his second technical foul, Morris was ejected in the fourth quarter. A point in which the Celtics were down 14 with 4:38 remaining in the game. In other words, they were still in the game. At least they could've been had it not been for both Clint Capela and the Boston Celtics bench.
Clint Capela single handily ran the rebounding game all night long last night. There's no question about it. The Rockets as a team, came down with 16 offensive rebounds. Capela collected 9 of them. He scored 24 points and finished with 18 total rebounds while shooting 9/14 from the field or 75%. The man looked like Dennis Rodman in the flesh last night. His last three games have been phenomenal, racking up 23 boards in the nights prior to last with 8 and 10 of those rebounds being offensive. The Celtics had no answer for him whatsoever.
Again another barrier in Houston that Celtics could've overcome had they not shot themselves in the foot. The Boston bench was poor in producing when called upon for production and contribution. Daniel Theis, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward combined for just 20 points and 6 assists. They each played for an average of 19 minutes which isn't too far from starter minutes. They combined to shoot just 4/14 from the field which just can't happen. You're not gonna win when Haywards a -19, Theis a -27, and Rozier a -16 regardless of your opponent that night. That's G-League level production that isn't going to help this team win ball games on any given night.
As for the starters, there were certainly some bones to pick in the Stevens starting five as well. Kyrie Irving put up a solid night, scoring 23 points with 11 assists while shooting 7/13 from the field. However his fellow Duke University brother Jayson Tatum shy'd away when the C's needed him most. You know those vintage, ridiculous shots that Marcus Smart takes at times which leaves you pulling your hair and reaching for a heart pill from time-to-time? Well Jayson Tatum gave us the exact opposite. Tatum showed no sign of just being on the floor offensively last night, only taking a total of 7 shots and scoring just 4 points in 29 minutes. He was on the floor longer than any other Celtic except for Kyrie Irving. Yet everyone except two Celtics players out-scored him. That's insane for a guy of Tatum's caliber talent.
In conclusion, rebound, score off the bench, and do whatever it takes to get the 20-year old to shoot the ball. You do that, you win Thursday night TNT games in Houston. Boston remains in the fifth spot in the East, 5.0 games back and next take on the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night at 8:00 PM EST.