Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball as Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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James Harden pours in 37 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists as the Houston Rockets hold off the Boston Celtics for the Win.
With less than five seconds reminding in the fourth quarter, Al Horford missed a potential game-winning layup to give the Houston Rocket a nailbiting victory over the Boston Celtics, Monday, in the Toyota Center.
Following the end of their five-game road trip with a win over the Denver Nuggets, the Rockets opened their two-game homestead against the Celtics. After a sluggish start that saw Houston open the game shooting 1-for-7 from the field, the Rockets had an explosive start to the game.
Behind 21 points and six assists from James Harden, the Rockets held a 58-48 lead at the halftime break. Although Houston looked more than ready to run the Celtics out of the gym, Boston came into the second half with other plans.
Behind all-stars Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics outscored the Rockets 20-9 to start the third. As well as leading the Celtics to an 83-77 third quarter lead.
Although Celtics led 100-94 with five minutes remaining in the fourth. The Rockets went on to outscore Boston 13-2 in the final minutes of the game. Although Harden put the finishing touches on the game. One has to give credit to the defensive performances by Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell.
Overall, this was one of the most competitive games of the season. A nailbiter by far.
Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) signals that the Rockets have possession of the ball during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Rockets Starting Five
It was a tale of two halves for Clint Capela. During the first half, Capela was on the verge of another spectacular game. He ended the first half with 10 points and eight rebounds, but most importantly his defensive play on Al Horford. During the first half, Horford had a miserable start to the game thanks to the defensive performance by Capela. However, once Horford got into the groove early in the third, Capela was no longer a factor in this game. 11 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assists, Plus/Minus (-10)
After playing like an All-Star throughout their road trip, Ryan Anderson had a quiet night in his return to Houston. During the first half, Anderson was not as aggressive finding his shot. He shot 0-for-3 and never found his mojo on the offensive end. Yet, he managed to have a positive effect on the game. For the first time since coming to Houston, Anderson had a solid night on the defensive end. He made the right adjustments to help Capela defend Al Horford. As well as having one of his best nights cleaning the glass for the Rockets. Unfortunately for Houston, Anderson’s solid play on the defensive end would not last. 2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, Plus/Minus (+8)
Prior to the game Ariza was listed as questionable against the Celtics. Many predicted that Ariza would miss Monday’s matchup, after leaving Friday’s game due to back spasms. However, the Rockets Ironman, was in full effect tonight. Thankfully, his injury did not slow him down one bit. He was able to warm up and come alive during the first half by scoring 10 points. As well as making a few defensive stops on Boston’s best perimeter players. However, during the second half, Ariza’s game took a step back. He looked less aggressive on both ends of the floor and his lack of play on the defensive end was greatly missed. With so much attention on Isaiah Thomas, Ariza allowed Jae Crawford to have one of his best offensive nights of the season. 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, Plus/Minus (-8)
Every team needs at least one player whose production on the court cannot be valued by stats alone. It is the little things like passing up an open shot to a teammate that has a better look, setting a screen or getting a deflection that matter. Of note, his effort on defense remains as he often picked up the extra player when one of his teammates stepped out of position on defense. 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, Plus/Minus (-3)
Do not let the numbers fool you. James Harden looked far from the league’s front-runner for MVP. Similar to Ariza and Capela, Harden had an awesome start to the game. He led the Rockets to a 58-48 halftime lead after putting up 21 points, five rebounds, and six assists. However, once Avery Bradley up his play on the defensive end, Harden had a tough second half. Although his performance in the fourth quarter was clutch, with 10 turnovers, this maybe one Harden would like to forget. 37 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 10 turnovers, Plus/Minus (+3)
Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) dribbles the ball as Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Best Sixth Man & Opponent
Forget Sixth man of the year, Eric Gordon deserves a spot on this year’s all-star team! Once again his stellar performance off the bench was the primary reason for the Rockets’ win. It was another great performance for the potential Sixth Man of the Year. And Gordon is quickly becoming my new favorite player. 18 points, Plus/Minus (+1)
While the Celtics gave Houston more than they could handle, Al Horford was Boston’s best player. He put up 21 points and no one could slow the all-star down. Fortunately for the Rockets it was one missed layup that kept him from becoming Boston’s savior. 26 Points, 9 Rebound, 2 blocks, Plus/Minus (-7)
After the win, the Houston Rockets will continue their two-game homestand, Wednesday, against the Los Angeles Lakers.