Coming off back-to-back losses, the Celtics had a chance to pick up some momentum Friday night when they hosted the Houston Rockets, owners of the NBA’s second-worst record. They made the most of that chance, toppling Houston 118-102 at TD Garden.
At the center of the Celtics’ strong performance was their ball movement. They recorded a season-high 35 team assists in the game, including 10 from Marcus Smart.
After a back-and-forth start, the Celtics found their rhythm and opened up an eight-point lead, which they mostly maintained for the rest of the quarter. They did this despite only getting to the line four times, compared to the Rockets’ nine trips. After 12 minutes, Boston led 33-25.
The Celtics stumbled in the middle of a low-scoring second quarter, surrendering the lead twice. However, they closed the frame on a 9-0 run giving them a 52-44 lead at the half.
Throughout the third quarter, the Celtics gradually built their lead, which grew to as much as 18 points. However, Houston put together an 8-0 run, which kept things close. Heading into the fourth, the Celtics held an 82-70 advantage.
Evan Fournier had his best stretch so far in a Celtics uniform at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He hit back-to-back threes, which at the time increased the C’s lead to 19. That was just the beginning, as he went on to score 20 points in the quarter.
As Boston was putting the game away, however, Jaylen Brown appeared to tweak his knee and was sent right back to the locker room. He did not return, and the team later called the injury a left knee contusion.
Jaylen Brown is out for the night with a left knee contusion pic.twitter.com/Hpz46nKhGe— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 3, 2021
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics with a game-high 26 points, and was a rebound away from a double-double. Fournier finished just behind him with 23 points. Despite not finishing the game, Brown recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 boards.
However, the real star of the night of the night was center Robert Williams. The 23-year-old scored a career-high 20 points and shot a perfect 9-of-9 from the field. He flirted with a triple-double, finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists.
Defensively, the Celtics kept the clamps on Houston. The Rockets shot 43 percent as a team, with no players scoring more than 19 points.
When the Celtics return to action on Sunday, they’ll welcome Gordon Hayward and the Charlotte Hornets to TD Garden. It will be Hayward’s first game in Boston since leaving the Celtics this offseason. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 5:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.