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The Boston Celtics (47-28) lost their third game in a row on Friday night, falling to the Houston Rockets (38-37) 119-114 in overtime at the TD Garden.
On this night it wasn’t Kevin Durant, but Luis Scola who did his best Michael Jordan impression, scoring 27 points and snatching 11 rebounds in the win over Boston. Houston point guard Aaron Brooks added 30 points and nine assists. He also hit a game-tying three-pointer with nine seconds remaining in the game.
While the tying shot was very impressive, this was a game the Celtics should have won in regulation. After jumping out to an eleven-point lead lead midway through the first quarter, Boston went on to miss 13 free throws, including three in the last 48 seconds of the fourth quarter. They also allowed Houston to shoot 51 percent from the floor. In the end, horrible free throw shooting combined with lackluster defense were too much for the home team to overcome.
It appeared the Celtics were on the path to victory late in the fourth quarter after mounting an 11-0 run to claim a seven-point lead. But a resilient Rockets squad clawed their way back tying the game at 104 with 1:15 remaining. Once again Boston took a slim lead with just a minute remaining, but poor free throw shooting allowed Houston to stay within striking distance.
Oddly enough, the Celtics scored the first five points in overtime to grab a 114-109 lead, but failed to score again. The Rockets scored the last 10 points of the game to ice the victory.
Paul Pierce scored 27 points and Rajon Rondo added 23 for the C’s. Rondo also recorded 10 assists, allowing him to pass Celtics legend Bob Cousy for the single-season franchise record. The Celtics point guard now has 724 assists on the season (Cousy had 715 assists during the 1959-1960 season).
In three consecutive home losses, Boston has allowed their opponents to score an average of 105.6 points per game. That level of defense is not going to translate into postseason success, and Doc Rivers knows it.
“There are so many things I could point out, but I won’t,” he said. “We played like a high school team at times, as far as the way our thought process was,” said Rivers.
Boston is still trying to find its winning form after clinching a playoff spot along with the Atlantic Division title. They host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday (1 ET ABC) before traveling to New York City on Tuesday to take on the Knicks.