Friday night’s matchup pitted two teams on almost opposite journeys. The overhauled Houston Rockets came into the season expectation-free after shaking up their starting lineup but got off to a hot start nonetheless.
But the upstarts couldn’t contend with a veteran Celtics team fighting on its home court to redeem itself after a slow start to the season, as Houston fell, 103-91.
The Celtics had to fight for their victory after almost letting a 17-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter. Sparked by a Carlos Delfino three-pointer, Houston went on a 12-0 run to pull within two. However, the Rockets couldn’t keep up their offensive pace, and they were outscored 20-10 to close out the game.
Both teams struggled from the foul line—with Boston never reaching the stripe in the first half—but the Celtics made up for it by knocking down 75 percent of their free throws in the third and fourth quarters, while the Rockets shot only 41.4 percent from the stripe throughout the game.
Lin—largely kept from the paint by a strong Celtics defense—added 12 points behind teammates Harden and Chandler Parsons, who led the team with 24 and 18 points, respectively. The guard was crucial on defense, tallying a team-high three steals and six assists, while adding four defensive rebounds in 36 minutes of play.
In the Celtics’ fifth straight win—their longest winning streak of the season—Paul Pierce led the team with 23 points. Boston also benefited from a deep bench, which outscored the Rockets’ bench by almost 100 percent, adding 40 points to Houston’s 25.
After winning five straight and 10 of 12 before suffering back-to-back losses at the hands of the Hornets and the Celtics, the Rockets will seek to right the ship against the 76ers tomorrow evening.