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At least this one doesn’t count. The Houston Rockets muscled past the Boston Celtics Wednesday night, 96-90, in the Celtics’ preseason opener. The Rockets were led by a 21-point effort from their floor general, Aaron Brooks. The only Celtic to score in double figures was training camp invitee Michael Sweetney, who finished the contest with 10 points.
The Celtics finished a back-and-fourth third quarter with a 75-70 lead, but were unable to hold on with many of the projected rotation players watching from the bench.
The important thing for the Celtics and their fans Wednesday was not the fact that the team lost, but that forward Kevin Garnett was back on the court. Garnett had a productive 13 minutes of action, scoring 6 points, pulling down 5 rebounds, and recording 2 steals. Perhaps more important was that KG was back at the helm as the C’s on-court leader.
At one point in the early third quarter, Garnett assisted a Ray Allen three-point play and proceeded to intensely high-five every Celtic on the floor. The play was a reminder of how badly the Celtics’ missed Garnett in their Game 7 loss to Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals less than five months ago.
Wednesday’s game marked the first time the 2008 NBA Champion starting lineup (Garnett, Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins) had hit the court together in a contest since March 25th.
Celtic newcomers Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels were both productive in limited minutes off the bench. Daniels recorded 7 points and 5 assists in 18 minutes, While Wallace finished the first half and the game with 6 points and 3 blocks. Celtics’ fans got a glimpse of the true ‘Sheed, as the former All-Star forward recorded his first technical foul in under three quarters of play in green.
All 14 active players for Boston scored in the first half. Reserves Eddie House, Glen Davis, and rookie Lester Hudson each scored 9 points in the losing effort.
The Celtics resume preseason play Friday night at 7:30 against the New York Knicks.