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Paul Pierce put in a team-high 23 points as the Celtics cruised to the 103-91 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Friday marked the fifth straight game the Celtics got a solid all out team effort.
Jared Sullinger came off a career night Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns when he had 12 points and 16 rebounds, and followed it up with a 14 point, 11 rebound game on 7-of-8 shooting, including several key put-backs in the first half against the Rockets.
The Celtics’ starters struggled from the opening tip-off through most of the first quarter, but the Celtics held a three-point lead heading into the second quarter thanks to Sullinger and the rest of the bench.
In the second, Pierce and company started firing on all cylinders and a monster throw down by Jeff Green punctuated the team’s effort. Green finished with nine points after a solid first half of play. The Celtics led 53-45 at halftime.
The Celtics kept playing strong in the after the half, with threes from Courtney Lee and smart shot taking by Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Lee finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Garnett had a huge night with 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Rondo added 12 points and eight assists.
The Rockets came alive with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 83-81 after two Celtics’ turnovers around the midway point of the quarter. The Celtics did not falter and increased their lead to 98-84 after a thunderous Garnett dunk.
James Harden once again led the way for the Rockets with 24 points. Avery Bradley played him fairly well on the defensive end, forcing him to go 9-of-19 from the field. Chandler Parsons added 18 points and Jeremy Lin finished with 12 points, five rebounds and six assists.
The Celtics will look to continue their recent hot streak against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday in the third game of a five-game homestand.