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The Celtics used a big first quarter to help power a 97-93 win (NBA.com Box Score). The Rockets outscored the C’s in every quarter except the first, but Boston hung on behind Kevin Garnett’s 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
With the win, Boston improved to 27-3, which is tied for the best 30-game start in the shot clock era. The last team to start so hot was the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, who went an NBA-record 72-10 and won the NBA title that year. Can you believe it, just 3 losses in 30 games!
Outscored 30-16 and down by 20 at one point, the Rockets began to fight back in the third and fourth quarters. That’s when Kevin Garnett took control. KG scored 11 points in the final 7 minutes of the game to help seal the win, including a big jumper down the stretch.
Perhaps more important, Garnett was relegated to guarding Yao Ming after both Celtics centers Kendrick Perkins and Scot Pollard fouled out trying to defend him. When the C’s needed a big man, KG was the only one they could turn to. He stepped up and only accumulated 2 fouls all game, and for the most part held Yao in check.
Said Ray Allen, perhaps the most clutch shooter on the team:
“(Garnett) definitely made (Yao) uncomfortable on defense, and on offense he stretched him. Kevin made a lot of big shots down the stretch. … You catch a little fire and he knocks down some shots for us. That was the difference.”
Lost in the hooplah of an exciting game was the absence of Rockets star Tracy McGrady, who was out for the fourth straight game with a sore left knee. If a healthy McGrady plays, the complexion of the game would be much different. Whether the Rockets would’ve won though is debatable.
Next up for the C’s is a date with the Grizzlies. With a day of rest, the Celtics should have absolutely no problem against the Grizzlies. But, there’s a reason they still play the game, so stay tuned.