Boston Celtics

Oct 24, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets center Daniel Theis (27) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reach for a loose ball in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

No Jaylen Brown, no problem?

Not exactly. But Jayson Tatum (31 points) and the Boston Celtics fought off an early challenge from a young Houston Rockets team to grab their first win of the 2021-22 season – the first of Ime Udoka’s head coaching career – 107-97 on the road in Texas Sunday night.

Brown missed the game with left knee soreness. Udoka classified the decision to sit the star forward as “cautious,” with a hope that he can play tomorrow night in Charlotte.

The C’s used a 36-point third quarter to push a 2-point halftime lead to 17. They kept it in double digits for most of the fourth before pulling out the 10-point win. Dennis Schröder and Grant Williams supported Tatum with 18 points each (Williams was 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc). Al Horford filled out the stat sheet with 17 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

Houston’s top scorer was Jalen Green, who tallied 30 points with eight three-pointers – a record for a rookie against Boston. Christian Wood chipped in 20 and nine rebounds. Old friend Daniel Theis had six points and five boards.

Following a bumpy start, the Celtics got back into it in the second, coaxing Houston into turnovers and getting out in transition to grab a slim halftime advantage.

Tatum hit his first four shots and was 6-for-8 in the opening quarter, but none of his teammates had more than a single field goal through 12 minutes as the Rockets rode 62 percent shooting to a 30-22 lead after one.

Romeo Langford joined Brown in street clothes as he missed the game with left calf tightness.

The C’s get back at it Monday night in the Queen City, taking on the 3-0 Hornets Monday night at 7 p.m. Pregame coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub starts at 6:30.

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Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.