Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics fade late in loss to Houston

The Celtics struggled early and they struggled late in a 127-113 loss to the Houston Rockets Thursday night.

The Green trailed by 17 points early in the second quarter, but battled back to cut the led to two points by halftime before taking a short-lived one point lead in the third quarter.

But the Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter, thanks in big part to James Harden, who had 45 points, including nine three-pointers, the most ever hit by one player in a single game against the Celtics.

Houston's Clint Capella had 24 points and 18 rebounds. The Celtics were out-rebounded 54-38.

Kyrie Irving had 23 points and 11 assists. Marcus Morris added 19 points before he was ejected after picking up two technical fouls.

The second units played a big role in determining the outcome of the game. The Celtics bench was a -16 in the losing effort.

The Green head to Memphis to play the Grizzles Saturday night.