Reigning MVP James Harden silenced his critics as he took off with 45 points, launching the Houston Rockets to a solid 127-113 victory against the Boston Celtics.
Harden has scored at least 30 points in eight straight games, including the triple double 50-point game against the Lakers in mid-December.
Putting up a career-high of nine 3’s, his step-back jumpers and ability to draw foul calls from drives paved the way to a win despite missing Chris Paul in the starting line-up. Harden went for an astonishing 9 of 18 from beyond the arc, and 14 from 17 from the free-throw line.
“He has a mastery of the game and a control and an ease of which he plays,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden. “It’s fun to watch.”
The Rockets delivered a well-played performance overall. Center Clint Capela dropped a double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds. Eric Gordon chipped in 20 points to the win. Austin Rivers, who was recently acquired, tipped in 10 points and 4 rebounds.
The Celtics braved the game without Centers Aron Baynes (broken finger) and Robert Williams (sore left leg) which left them inadequate at grabbing boards. Rockets led the offensive rebounds stats at 16 to Celtics’ seven.
Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and 11 assists. Both Marcus Morris and Al Horford chipped in 19 and 15 points each. Jayson Tatum was underwhelming all night – with only 4 points in this game, as compared to his average regular season game of 16.6 points.
“The first 18 minutes and then the last 24 minutes, the glass killed us,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought the restricted area generally on both sides of the floor, our finishing and our lack of rebounding were separators.”
“We just weren’t covering up for one another consistently enough,” Irving said. “That’s really what it comes down to.”Leave a comment